Ronaldo: I’m so proud to be the best goalscorer ever

  • Cristiano Ronaldo has been awarded the FIFA Special The Best Award

  • Recognised for becoming the highest-scoring male in international football history

  • The Portuguese expressed his delight

“I think It’s much harder to score goals at international level these days,” said Ronaldo in 1997. "You can’t expect to score against Saudi Arabia or Australia or any other national team in the modern era. That record is not something I think about.” Those were the words of Ronaldo in 1997. ‘O Fenômeno’ was 21, an out-and-out striker and had 20 goals in 30 caps to his name, but was trying to extinguish talk of whether he’d one day break Pele’s 77-goal Brazil record. Ronaldo went on to retire as one of the greatest marksmen in football history and with 62 goals for his country.

If the masses speculated over whether Ronaldo could become the highest-scoring male in international football history back then, nobody did the same over another Ronaldo when he was 21. The latter had netted 12 goals in 40 appearances for Portugal and was a winger.

Cristiano Ronaldo was, however, a freak of nature. Indeed, 49 goals in his last 47 internationals catapulted Cristiano past Ali Daei, on to 110 overall and made him the highest-scoring male of all time.

“A very special award for a unique player,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino as he handed over The Best FIFA Special Award to Ronaldo at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ in Zurich tonight. “[It’s] very beautiful,” said the recipient, gazing at the award. “It was a dream. I never thought about beating that record, of scoring 115. The record was 109, right? So I’m six ahead. I’m so proud [to receive] a Special Award from FIFA, an organisation that I respect a lot.” Moments after leaving the stage, Ronaldo expanded on his delight. “I’m very happy,” he said. “It’s a special award for me to be the best goalscorer ever. It’s a great achievement. I’m so proud. I never thought that one day I would be the number one. It’s a great honour for me. It’s great to be the [record] goalscorer of all time. “I have to say thank you to my old team-mates from 2004, when I started to play for the national team, until now. And, of course, I have to say thank you to my family: my wife, my kids.”

So, to what does Ronaldo attribute his capacity to keep on breaking records and winning trophies? “Sacrifice,” he said. “Without sacrifice you can’t achieve anything. I started to play at the top level when I was 18 and I’ve been at the top for 15, 16 years. It’s down to my dedication, my passion, my ambition and working hard all the time. This is why I’ve continued to be at the top of the world in terms of performance, trophies, goals, records. “I still have the passion for the game. Not just to score goals. It’s to entertain myself because I’ve played football since I was five, six years old. When I go out on the pitch, even in training, I’m still enjoying it and my motivation is still there. Even though I’m going to be 37 soon, I feel good, I feel motivated, I have been working hard since I was 18 years old and I continue to. “I love the game. I still have that passion. I want to continue. People ask me sometimes how many more years I’m going to play and I say I hope to play another four, five years. It’s all mental because I think that if you treat your body [well], when you need your body it’s going to give it back.

The patriot also dedicated his prize to his country. “I know I make the Portuguese people proud,” said the Manchester United forward. “This award is for them and the country as well. I have appreciated the motivation they give me since I started to play for the national team. “It’s always a pleasure to play for your country, for your flag, for your family. It’s unbelievable. Every time I put the Portuguese shirt on I feel so emotional, so happy. It’s a great feeling.” Ronaldo, who helped Portugal conquer the UEFA EURO in 2016 and the UEFA Nations League three years later, now wants to lead them to one of few trophies missing from his extraordinary collection: the FIFA World Cup™. First, though, Portugal must make it through the European play-offs, where they have been drawn in a very tough bracket including European champions Italy. “We know we have a difficult two games – I hope we will have two. It will be tough. Everything is possible. We know the draw was difficult but it’s part of the business, part of football. Football is a challenge. I hope we will be ready for the battles.”

Another milestone Ronaldo achieved tonight was being voted into the FIFA FIFPro World XI for the 17th year in succession. So, why does he get such consistent recognition from his fellow professionals? “They know,” said the Funchal native. “They know because they also play football, they know what it takes to be at the top level, and they know what I do on the pitch. The results show what I do. “I have to say thank you to all of them for voting for me to be there, and it’s great motivation for me to continue and to make people happy, especially the fans around the world and my family. And I will continue because I’m still capable and happy to keep pleasing people.”