As Cristiano Ronaldo reaches the half way point of his 19th season in first-team men’s football, he continues to somehow shock everyone.
The Portuguese forward made it 11 goals in his last 11 appearances for Juventus as they beat Sassuolo 3-1 on Sunday night, to move level with legendary Czech striker Josef Bican as the official all time top goalscorer in top level football history with 759 goals.
He now sits at the top of the Serie A goalscoring charts with 15 goals in 12 appearances this season, as he looks to secure his first golden boot in Italy.
But all of this coming just weeks before he turns 36 years of age makes it all the more surreal.
It feels like yesterday when he entered the scene at Old Trafford as a brash youngster, looking to steal the show with flair and stepovers, with a blonde streak in his hair.
The talent he had was evident but he lacked that ruthless streak in front of goal, that mindset to put teams to the sword. He was all about the highlight rather than the basics of the game. Sir Alex Ferguson soon coached that out of him – and a monster was born.
Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or for the first time in 2008, having been the runner-up to Kaka the previous year. He was then runner-up to Lionel Messi in three of the next four years and many believed the Argentine was just a level above. But Ronaldo roared back to win four of the next five awards himself, taking him to five Ballon d’Or awards during his career.
He’s won the Champions League a record five times, won league titles in England, Spain and Italy, is the record scorer in the UEFA Champions League and is Real Madrid’s top goalscorer of all-time. He is also only seven goals behind Ali Dia as the all-time top goalscorer for any nation, as he sits on 102 goals for Portugal.
His list of achievements could be reeled off for days but there’s more to him than just that.
He is a leader among men, he is constantly seeking new challenges and making them look easy. Going from Real Madrid to Juventus may not seem like a challenge, considering the Italian side had won seven Serie A titles in a row before he joined. But a new country, a new league, a new language after already having won everything there is to win, shows just how motivated he is to continue improving.
He steps up in big moments, scoring big goals against all opposition and delivers every time. He has been Juventus’ top goalscorer in both of his full seasons at the club so far.
He’s moved from a right winger, to a left winger, to a winger-cum-striker, to now an out and out number nine and there are still not many better than him.
As he approaches his 36th birthday, Ronaldo’s greatness continues to inspire and astound those who love the game of football. He won’t be around forever, that’s a fact. Mother nature remains undefeated in sports.
But maybe we should start to admire that little bit more as his clock begins to wind down. Although, I’m sure we all said something similar about five years ago and look how that went.