Cristiano Ronaldo insists he has nothing to prove to the critics who claim the Manchester United winger will never be a truly great player until he shines in the biggest matches. The 23-year-old has a chance to put an end to the claim that he goes missing against world-class opposition when United face Chelsea in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League final.
A series of lacklustre performances in last year's FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea and the Champions League semi-final against AC Milan led to suggestions Ronaldo is a flat-track bully.But the Portugal star is adamant his superb form over the last two Premier League seasons has showed his true worth.
"I scored two goals against Arsenal, I scored against Liverpool and against Chelsea," he told the Observer. "I am very happy with my season. I have scored 41 goals and won every award, I don't have to show anything to anyone. There is nothing to prove.
"People can think what they like, I don't care. Maybe if I play well in Moscow I might win the European individual award, too, and that would end the argument, but I am not thinking about that now. I have never won the Champions League and I think I have a great chance with Manchester United. That's what I am concentrating on."
First Champions League final
If Ronaldo can impose his unique talents against Chelsea in Moscow he believes there is every chance the match will rise above the mediocre level of their FA Cup final meeting at Wembley last season.
"Different competition, different style, different stadium, everything is different," he said. "And this is the biggest game of all to look forward to. Most of the players on the pitch will not have played in a Champions League final before, this will be the biggest game of their careers. Me included. It is the only thing I have not won in English football."
Ronaldo's first Champions League final appearance could be his last match for United if reports that he is interested in joining Real Madrid are true. In public he makes a convincing case that he will stay at Old Trafford, for now at least, though, he appears to say one thing to the English press and quite another when he speaks to the Spanish media.
"I think I am at the right club. It feels like home and the people here have been fantastic with me," he said. "I am happy here, and I think I will be here next year, but you never know the future."