Twenty-four today, Cristiano Ronaldo has his work cut out if he's to equal or top everything he achieved at 23. But as he told MUTV's Stewart Gardner recently, for all his glories so far, his ambition still burns brightly...
You won everything in 2008… how do you follow that in 2009?
I’ve spoken to some experienced players who have a great history in the game and they’ve said, it’s not what you do in one season, it’s staying at the top level, that is the challenge. I have to carry on like that. If I don’t perform, I know people will start to criticise me and I don’t want that. I’m an ambitious player and I want to win many, many more things.
How did you go from scoring a few goals in your first few seasons, to 42?
When I arrived at 18 I was a good player, but not in decision-making, like whether I have to pass the ball or dribble. Winning trophies and being at this club, it gives you maturity, and I have learnt a lot. When you’re playing around great players you learn many things. So I’ve improved every season, and the last season was the best of them all. But I want more – this season I want to score the same amount of goals, or more if it’s possible. I know it will be hard, but I have it in my head that it’s possible.
What’s your favourite goal from last season?
It’s hard, but I have a few! The header in Rome, the free-kick against Portsmouth, and the flick against Aston Villa. I’ll choose those!
What's the secret of your free-kicks?
Many people have asked me, but there is no secret! That’s just my style of shooting, and everyone has their own style. I like to hit it strong, the ball starts to move in the air, and that’s it! To be honest, there’s no strategy, no secret. Practice helps as well, of course. If you want to be good at your job you have to work hard and practise a lot.
Then there was your first hat-trick for United, against Newcastle…
That was very special. I had scored two many times, but never got the third, and my mum had started to say, “Cristiano, why do you never score three goals?!” I had to explain,