After winning so many individual trophies, what does this award mean to you?
The most important job for a forward is to score goals – and to be the best goalscorer four times is an honour for me and something special. I consider it very important. And I love it because it’s something you work for and at the end you reap the rewards. Let’s hope I can keep up this streak.
Did you ever imagine, when you started out, that you would be a four-time Golden Shoe winner?
No, of course not. I thought maybe I could win one or two, but not four. But sometimes there is a sequence of events that push you towards an objective. In this last one, for example, I began to score a lot in the first few games and thought: “OK, I’m playing very well and I’m going to continue to do so.” I didn’t start saying I would win it either, but everything ends up taking over. You see people talk about the trophy and you motivate yourself.
Has the Cristiano Ronaldo at the start of his career changed a lot from the one that is here now?
He’s different. I’m more of a box player, not so much a winger. Because goals are made inside the box and close to the goal, my position has changed a bit. The instinct for goal, as well, that’s something you learn with experience. It’s something that has come to me more naturally and that makes me happy. You can see the evolution that I’ve had throughout my career – since I began until today – and that is good for me. I’ve been evolving.
What’s left for you to do at Real Madrid? Do you see yourself retiring at Real?
I want to keep winning. I still feel good, I feel young. I am 30 years old and I want to keep playing for five or six more. And in those years I want to do things well and maintain the level I’ve had the last few seasons. I know that it’s gradually more difficult, but in my head it’s possible. I want to win and I’m at the best club in the world. I have a contract until I’m 33 and, like I’ve said many times, my dream is to finish here at Real Madrid because I feel good and useful here. I want to keep going.
What rivals do you see for the next Golden Shoe? Do you think Lionel Messi has lost ground because of his injury?
There are many great forwards throughout many European leagues; in the English league, German…Rooney, Aguero, Lewandowski, Neymar. Benzema is also in good form. Luis Suarez again. There are many great players – but I want to keep winning it, though. We’ll see what happens throughout this year.
Does it get tougher to maintain this level of sacrifice, work and fitness?
At the moment I don’t feel a difference from when I was 25 years old. Many people say that after 30 you start going down, but I don’t have that mentality because if you take care of yourself, work out, practise and do things right, you don’t feel those sudden effects. It’s like age, you don’t get older from one day to another, it’s something that comes slowly. And in a footballer’s life it’s a bit like that. If you take care of yourself, and do things right, you can keep going until 40. I have the motivation and the desire to keep going.
What does a professional do to take care of themselves even after winning everything at club level?
Everything is motivation and is just the wayI am. As long as I’m motivated to play, I will take care of myself and train to the max in order to give the best I have. The passion I have guarantees that I’ll have a good future. And I hope to maintain my level year afteryear because that it the most difficult part, maintaining yourself every year.
Are there things you can still improve on?
In everything. I don’t look at just one thing, but in general. I try to be better every time…play, train, recover – which is very important – andI always want to go beyond in everything.
And what facets of the game in particular?
Headers, positioning, free-kicks…we should never think we know it all. If you have that mentality you’ll never improve and you’ll stagnate. I always work, thinking I can improve more and more.
Is Madrid a key part in this entire adventure? You’ve achieved your best numbers in the white shirt…
Since I arrived I needed to think big because Real Madrid is the biggest club in the world. It’s a nice moment in my sporting life. Winning the fourth Golden Shoe is an honour and a huge privilege. I want to thank everyone who came here: the Portuguese ambassador, my coach, my president, the institution that is Real Madrid, the fans…
Have your team-mates also been essential throughout these years?
Of course. Without them I wouldn’t have the opportunity of winning this. And the physios and to everyone who helps me stay fit throughout the year and always work for
my good and the good of Real Madrid.
What are your objectives this season?
I’m always looking for more. I want the fifth Golden Shoe, the sixth…Real Madrid must always win titles and this year is no different. We want to win the league, the Champions League, the cup…
What are your hopes for Portugal at the Euro finals in the summer?
I’m missing a title with my national team. It would be the culmination of my career and
I have hope. We have a good coach and an excellent president. The new generation is good and it has helped us grow a lot. The Portuguese clubs have bet on youth who will have their place in the national team. We have a great future.
Interview by Sid Lowe/ESM