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Cristiano Ronaldo says it’s annoying having to prove how good he is every season as he approaches the end of a fruitful first campaign with Juventus.
Some people consider the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to be the greatest player of all time, but he told ICON it can be tiresome to have to prove his quality year after year (h/t Marca):
“I won’t deny that sometimes I get annoyed and tired because it seems as though every year I have to prove that I’m very good.
“It’s difficult, you have extra pressure of having to prove something to people and it’s not only for you, but your mother, your son.
“It makes you more active.
“You have to train, but there comes a time when you have to say ‘look, let me be…’“
Ronaldo missed out on a place in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign after the Bianconeri were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Ajax.
Despite their European upset, Juve won an eighth successive Serie A crown with a major helping hand from last summer’s £100 million signing.
Success breeds greater expectations, and Ronaldo is aware there are plenty who want to see him falter. He likened it to people “waiting with a shotgun for me to miss a penalty or fail in a big match.”
Ronaldo’s most recent accomplishment was heading in a late equaliser against Torino on Friday to salvage a 1-1 draw for the Scudetto champions (U.S. only):
ESPN FC @ESPNFC
Cristiano Ronaldo’s towering header denies Torino a Derby della Mole victory! https://t.co/CqaAI7UEFG
That score underlined his importance to the team after he also scored Juventus’ only goal in their 1-1 draw against Inter Milan in the previous game.
Days after fellow five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi scored his 600th goal for the Catalan club, Ronaldo celebrated another milestone, per Squawka:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 601 goals in his club career; 100 of them have been headers.
That man can jump. 🛫 https://t.co/xS19nSzJXF
Now 34, it’s only natural Ronaldo’s output begins to decline. He’s scored 28 times in 41 appearances this season and could finish a campaign with fewer than 30 goals for the first time since he left Manchester United in 2009.
The veteran forward stressed the importance of being humble before describing his “perfect” adaptation to life in Italy:
“You have to be humble. You have to learn that you don’t know everything and, if you’re smart, you improve little things that make you better as an athlete.
“I’ve adapted perfectly at Juventus. They saw that I’m not a smoke seller. They saw that I’m Cristiano Ronaldo and that I am what I am because I take care of myself.
“Why have I won five Ballon d’Ors and five Champions Leagues?“
Those comments don’t account for the importance a team plays in winning competitions, as illustrated by two of this season’s Champions League semi-finalists, Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur.
However, that’s also not to detract from the obvious winning impact Ronaldo can have on any given fixture, as Juventus blogger Arjun Pradeep recently testified:
Arjun Pradeep @IndianRegista
If not for Cristiano Ronaldo, we would have found it very hard to win the Scudetto this season considering the injuries we’ve had post Jan. We have had over 50 injuries this year and barely had 15 first team players for any game post Feb.
Cristiano has won us this Scudetto.
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has spent a season alongside Ronaldo and credits his team-mate as an equal alongside the Barcelona ace, per Goal:
How to put the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo in context? 🤔
Tennis anyone? 🎾 https://t.co/wozci44yOg
Ronaldo continued to say he wants to surprise people who cite his age as a factor that will diminish his prowess, but it’s testament to Juve’s faith in his longevity that they gave him a contract until 2022.
He will be expected to keep shouldering the weight of expectation for at least another three seasons, and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be under pressure to prove his best years aren’t behind him.