Cristiano Ronaldo Defies Retirement, Asserts Ego: “Everyone Aspires to Be Me, but Lacks Discipline”

Cristiano Ronaldo still doesn’t want to say goodbye to football. The 39-year-old forward, who plays for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, understands that he has more to give in this profession in which he has already spent two entire decades. He has always been an athlete of challenges and that does not change today, although he is far away, at the club level, from elite football.

“I’m proud to be this age and compete at the highest level. It’s great and motivates me to continue ,” the Portuguese told Whoop Podcast. His sporting life underwent a total transformation in 2022 when his departure from Manchester United was announced after speaking openly in an interview with Piers Morgan that he felt despised by coach Erik teg Hag. He left through the back door of the club that consolidated him as a world star and to which, upon his return, in 2021, he dreamed of returning to greatness.

It was a failed mission, but there was not much to recriminate after so many successes: five Champions Leagues (four with Real Madrid and one with United) and five Ballon d’Ors. Ronaldo implanted many paradigms in football and even in Juventus, although he could no longer be European champion, he showed that age was not an impediment to performing in the face of the highest demands. Today he still thinks about it that way.

“It’s not easy to be at this level. Keep pushing, be motivated, keep going, score goals, be fit, compete against the young lions that come in and when they face me, they want to show that they are stronger and faster than me. You have to be prepared to play well, not only physically but also mentally. That is the challenge,” he added in the same podcast. His 42 goals this season make it clear that ambition is never lowered for him, although on a collective level he has suffered, as he has not been able to be champion of the League or the Asian Champions League.

Close to 40, Ronaldo maintains his work philosophy firm. For him, as he said in the podcast, talent and work are equally important. He says that he has both: the evidence is irrefutable when he turns to see everything he achieved in his prime and what he still continues to build today in the final stretch of his career. “The small details make the difference. Consistency is the most complicated thing. Are you willing to do it? That’s the main point, because everyone wants to be a Christian, but doing it is difficult. Discipline is the most complicated thing.”

Will it really be the end? If Cristiano Ronaldo has taught anything, it is that when talking about him, endings are not a certainty. When Portugal was eliminated from the Qatar 2022 World Cup, many believed that it would now be their last dance. And it was not so. The Euro Cup will be played next month and Cristiano Ronaldo will be there to try to win the second in his history, after that feat in Paris in which he lifted the trophy, but he missed almost the entire game due to an injury.

His path will still be marked by two great competitions, in which another part of his legacy is at stake. The other is the 2026 World Cup. It seems further away in time, although two years go by too quickly in football—it will almost be two since Qatar. Today, and with that mentality that he strives to emphasize, the most logical thing is to think that he wants to get there and do everything he has left to pay off the last debt that football reserves for him.

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