The Portugal international, who now has three Ballons d’Or to his name, heralded himself and his Liga rival while also discussing when he might retire
Cristiano Ronaldo has described himself and Barcelona rival Lionel Messi as footballing anomalies for the way they have kept themselves at the top of world football for an unprecedented amount of time.
The Real Madrid forward, 29, picked up the third Ballon d’Or trophy of his career on Monday, defeating four-time winner Messi and World Cup-winning Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Ronaldo acknowledged that he and Messi are two of the only players to have maintained their aura of invincibility for so long, and the Portugal international puts the fulfilling achievements down to hard work.
“To be honest, no, I didn’t think I’d be at the top of world football for so many years,” he told Fifa.com. “It all happened so fast. In my opinion, the hardest thing is maintaining that level.
“I’m proud to have been in the World XI for eight consecutive years and always vying to be among the best three, as it’s something very few people manage to do. I think just Messi and I have done it, not many more anyway.
“I don’t think anyone else has done it eight years in a row, which is why it’s immensely satisfying. Year after year I keep working hard with my club and national team so that I continue to stand out. This recognition is an indication that things are going well and that I’m enjoying an exceptional career.”
Ronaldo also expressed he is well aware he will be considered a legend once he hangs up his boots, though he remains uncertain if his mind and body have another decade of footballing action in them.
“In truth, I don’t think about my legacy,” he added. “I know I’ll have a place in the history of the game because of what I’m doing and winning, whether at an individual or team level.
” know I’ll have a nice page devoted to me between some of the all-time greats, and that makes me happy. I’m 29 now but I feel great, like I’m still 25! I think I can play on for another five, six or seven years at a high level. Beyond that, we’ll have to see.
“It’s conceivable I play until I’m 40 years old but, as I said before, it’s a case of seeing how I feel year after year, how motivated I am and if I’m still useful to my team like in the past.
“As for going on until 40… If I want to play until then, I will, though I might be dragging myself around by then! But while I’m playing to an acceptable standard – acceptable to me, that is, and at a level my fans and club deserve – then I want to continue. Honestly, though, it’s not something I’m thinking about yet.”
The ex-Manchester United forward has been prolific once again for Real Madrid in 2014-15, scoring 33 goals in all competitions as the European champions top La Liga.