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Ronaldo: World Cup would crown career

ESPN staff
April 18, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo inspired his country in the play-offs © Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken of his desire to win the World Cup with Portugal this summer - and believes it is possible with hard work.

Ronaldo has won many trophies at club level, claiming the Premier League three times as well as the 2004 FA Cup and 2008 Champions League during his time at Manchester United and, since moving to Real Madrid in 2009, one La Liga title and two victories in the Copa del Rey.

However, the closest he has come to silverware at international level came a decade ago, when Portugal suffered a shock defeat to Greece in the Euro 2004 final in Lisbon. Having scored the goals that secured qualification for this summer's World Cup in Brazil, Ronaldo is hoping to help his country become world champions for the first time.

"That would crown a great career," Ronaldo told French magazine So Foot Junior. "I know it will be difficult, but everything is possible with work."

Sir Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo's manager at United, once claimed he had to "drag Cristiano off the training pitch sometimes because he likes to practice so much," and the FIFA Ballon d'Or holder says it is precisely because of that dedication that he has been able to set himself apart.

"I have always watched the players who performed the best, and by observing them I understood one thing - what makes the difference between good players and stars is their work," he said. "I have played with footballers who had incredible talent, and it's difficult to say if they were better than me, but where they fell down was in consistency.

"Many players are good for five, 10 or 15 games, but you must play well for 60 games a season."

For Ronaldo, that means looking after yourself, even away from the field or training pitch.

"To sleep well, to rest well, to eat well," he said. "The difference between good players and the best player in the world can be in these details."

Another difference, he said, is the pressure he puts on himself. "I always want to score, to win, to be the best," he said. "I will never change. I put pressure on myself. If I did not do that, I would not be as good a player."

Now 29, Ronaldo feels he has learned from incidents that led some to take a negative view of him earlier in his career.

He said: "I have made many mistakes, but I am happy to have done that, because I have become better - as a player and as a human being. I am calmer now, less impulsive. I make better decisions on the pitch.

"Becoming a father has also helped me to be more cold-blooded, and more patient. Time has done its work. The fans might have had a bad image of me at the start of my career, because of certain gestures or attitudes."

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