World Football

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first European player to score a century of goals for his national team on Tuesday. It was a remarkable feat that took him to 101 goals – following a brace on the night – within 8 goals of Ali Daei’s world record of 109 national team goals. What truly caught the eye, however, was the manner in which he did it.

It is easy to forget that Cristiano is now 35 years old. For most other footballers, that age means walking on the last legs of one’s career. For players like Cristiano Ronaldo – and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as well, it must be said – age is really just a number. The first goal was a glorious free-kick and stung the net and took Ronaldo to 100 goals. If that was impressive, then the second goal was stupendous. Receiving a pass from just outside the area, the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner curled a beauty into the far corner from just outside the box, once again beating Robin Olsen in goal for Sweden. Beyond the goals, the performance was also amazing. He dropped deep, moved from wing to wing, got involved in clever passing moves, showed his brilliant one-touch passing that kept things moving before even capping the performance with two goals. He was everywhere, buzzing from side to side, looking energetic, lively, and not even a tiny bit like a 35-year old.

As it is, Cristiano is showing no signs of strongly slowing down. It’s no longer a conversation about ‘if’ he will break Ali Daei’s record, it’s now about ‘when’. On the general football front, one wonders how long Ronaldo is going to remain at the top. He has previously mentioned the fact he is looking to play until his 40s. On the evidence of yesterday, it is looking increasingly likely that he will be able to maintain a high level right into his 40s. If that happens, then it is a safe bet that he could indeed reach 1000 career goals, and possibly even win another Ballon d’Or. When one realizes that he has scored over 200 goals since he turned 30, it is hard to bet against him reaching 1000 goals someday, if he does keep playing. That will surely be a target he is looking towards. As we already know, with Cristiano Ronaldo, just about anything is possible. Will he do it? We will just have to wait and see.

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