- La Liga
Happy Ronaldo wants to 'finish career' at Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted it took him time to win over the fans at Real Madrid, but he now loves life at the Bernabeu and wants to stay at the club for the rest of his career.
Even three years after his move from Manchester United in the summer 2009 there were still regular whistles for the Portuguese attacker at the Bernabeu, as fans took offence at what was seen as his egoistic style and tendency not to show up in big games against Barcelona.
But the situation changed during the 2011-12 season, when Madrid got on top of their Catalan rivals, and Ronaldo becoming the first player ever to score in six consecutive clasicos. He told radio show El Partido de las 12 that he now loves life in the Spanish capital.
"I love the people of Madrid, los madrilenos, los madridistas," Ronaldo said. "I am living a dream when I go into the Estadio Bernabeu, knowing the fans love me a lot and I feel really good. I feel like I want to finish my career here because I feel really happy, I love living in Madrid, I love playing for the best club in the world. I cannot ask for any more."
The 28 year old admitted his relationship with Madrid fans had not always been so positive.
"At the start I did not know how to impress the fans at the Bernabeu, it is special, with a different culture to other countries," Ronaldo said. "The truth is in the first years I did not feel at home on the pitch. But after I began to understand that it might have been who was wrong, not the fans, because the fans are like that, it is the Spanish mentality. In the third year or the fourth I began to really enjoy Madrid, on the pitch and off the pitch. And now I feel a person who is 100% happy."
Ronaldo accepted that a change in his behaviour on and off the pitch had helped him win over those hard to please Madrid supporters.
"Age and experience maybe have made me see things in a different way," he said. "Maybe now I think differently than four years ago, and do not make as many mistakes now. That forms part of my evolution."
His now widely admired 'calm down, calm down' goal celebration, first seen at the Nou Camp when he scored the winner in an April 2012 clasico which clinched that season's title, had not been planned, Ronaldo claimed.
"I do not plan these things," he said. "It all began in the game against Barcelona. The fans were excited and when I scored it was to tell them that they should be calm, that the game was not over. And that I was still here and could still do some more little things."
Ronaldo was joined in the studio by three children who are currently undergoing treatment for leukemia, and said he had been a bone marrow donor since he learned of the problem faced in 2011 by the son of Portugal team-mate Carlos Martins.
"Many people might think it is a difficult thing to do, but it does not take much at all, it just means taking a small bit of blood," he said. "I did it many years ago, and if I had to do it again I would as it does not hurt, there is no problem and we can help many people, many children, many older people. Above all for children it is a very serious illness and we must help out."
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.