February 19, 2009

Ronaldo aims for more

05/02/2009 10:36

Previously, we published another extract in which Ronaldo talks about transfer speculation and his future plans. You'll find this in Exclusive Interviews.

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, “Mum, sometimes it’s not possible,” but she just said, “Ah, but you have to score three one time!” So when I did I was immediately thinking about my mum. To get that first hat-trick was a special day, and to score it at Old Trafford was a great moment.

Were you nervous before taking a penalty in the final league game?
Well, there was a little bit of pressure because if we didn’t win, maybe Chelsea could take the title. I just said to myself, “Cristiano, you have to score this goal, because if you do, maybe we win the league.” And so I scored, we go 1-0 up, and then Giggsy comes on and scores the second goal, and the fans start to believe we can win the title.

How do you cope with the pressures of being a big star?

When people say that they like you because of how you play, or how you look – although I don’t believe too much of that – it’s always good. Like in the stadiums in Japan, when you touch the ball and people start screaming, I love all that and I appreciate it. I have an opportunity to say thank you to everyone who supports me, because it gives me motivation to win more now, and in the future.

Can you do normal things out and about in Manchester?
It can be difficult, but I feel at home in Manchester, I’ve been here since I was 18. I like living here and my family like to visit. The only bad thing is there are no direct planes from Madeira! But my mum and sister like to visit, it’s a nice place, nice people, they’re always good with me, no one gives me any problems. My life is brilliant!

Are you bothered by the booing at away grounds?
It’s normal for me now. If it doesn’t happen I’m thinking, “Why aren’t they booing me?!” Maybe they think if they boo, I’ll lose my concentration, but it doesn’t happen: I like it!

Some say you don’t get enough protection – has that changed?
The referees have a very hard job and I respect them, but sometimes I don’t agree with what happens. If you want to have a good league and quick football, you have to protect the skilful players, because they are the ones that put on a show and that’s what the fans want. But there are some very good referees in the Premier League.

How important is it to entertain?
I like it when people come to the games and see nice moments, nice tricks, but you have to do it for the team. You can’t do well in every game and people must understand that.

Who are your best friends at the club?
I speak more with the Portuguese-speaking players like Nani, Anderson, Rafael, Manucho, but I could say everyone. Carlos, Pat, Rio, Vida, Edwin... the team spirit at United is great and sometimes it's the most important thing. There is a togetherness, you can have a joke with everyone. I think that’s why the team works well, why we win things.