Cristiano Ronaldo has reflected on his 20th year in professional football as the Juventus star shared a message of gratitude after hitting his 36th birthday, but insisted that he can not promise another 20 years at the top of the sport.
Despite his advancing years, the Portuguese sensation has maintained the performances that have taken him to the pinnacle of the game, having bagged 22 goals in 23 games for Andrea Pirlo’s side this season.
Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of football’s greatest players and broke Pele’s goal record earlier this year after netting his 758th strike against Udinese.
Although most players’ form naturally dips as they enter the latter years of their career, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star has emerged as the Old Lady’s only hope of retaining their Serie A crown this season.
And Ronaldo has taken to Instagram to reflect on his career after reaching the age of 36 on Friday.
’36 years old, unbelievable! It feels like it all started yesterday, but this journey is already full of adventures and stories to remember by. My first ball, my first team, my first goal… Time flies,’ he wrote.
‘From Madeira to Lisbon, from Lisbon to Manchester, from Manchester to Madrid, from Madrid to Turin, but above all, from the bottom of my heart to the world… I’ve given everything I could, I never held back and I’ve always tried to deliver the best possible version of me.
‘In return, you gave me your love and admiration, your presence and your unconditional support. And for that, I’ll never be able to thank you enough. I couldn’t have done without you.
‘As I celebrate my 36th birthday and my 20th year as a professional footballer, I’m sorry that I can’t promise you 20 more years of this. But what I can promise you, is that as long as I keep going, you’ll never receive less than 100% from me!
‘Thank you once again for all your support and for your kind messages and initiatives during this day. It means a lot to me and you all have a special place in my heart.’
The post was uploaded alongside a picture of his young family about to tuck into a Portugal-themed birthday cake.
While Ronaldo’s football career will inevitably end one day, the striker insisted he will not force any of his children to maintain his sporting legacy when they grow up.
Cristiano Jr, 10, plays in the Juventus academy but his famous father insists he doesn’t necessarily have to follow in his footsteps.
The 36-year-old is viewed as one of the greatest to play football during his illustrious career
‘We’ll see if my son will become a great footballer,’ he said last December. ‘Sometimes he drinks coke and eats crisps and it irritates me, he knows that.
‘Sometimes I tell my son to take a dip in cold water to recover after a run on the treadmill and he says: “Dad, it’s so cold there”. That’s fine, he is only 10 years old.
‘I always tell him that it takes work and dedication to have success. I won’t pressure him to become a footballer but I would like it.
‘The most important thing is to become the best in his field, whether it is football or medicine.’