Cristiano Ronaldo at Marca (II)
Cristiano Ronaldo is the cover boy of Marca for the second day straight, with the second part of his three-part interview published today. In this part, he’s asked for his opinion on several teammates, as well as his own ambitions. Once again, I love what he has to say. You get the feeling that he’s a bit like Mou – in that the way he’s generally portrayed is completely different than how he is in real life.
Q: You finished the primera vuelta with 23 goals. If you keep scoring at this pace, you would win the pichichi with ¡46 goals! That would be a new record. Is the desire to surpass the record of 38 goals set by Hugo Sánchez and Zarra a motivation for you?
A: I don’t play to break records; I don’t think about this. What I do focus on is maintaining my level until the end of the season and to help Real Madrid win titles. I’m not obsessed with numbers, but it’s clear that I would like to and I am motivated by breaking this record.
Q: You don’t look at the pichichi table after each matchday, to see how you and your rivals are doing?
A: I focus on working at the highest level to do my best for my team. And in the end if I receive an award such as this one, great. But if I had to choose between the pichichi and the Champions, it’s clear what I would choose.
Q: What do you speak in the locker room, Portuguese or Spanish?
A: I speak three or four languages in the locker room (laughs). Good or bad, I speak Spanish, English, Portuguese, a bit of French and some words in German. The truth is that the atmosphere in the locker room is phenomenal.
Q: It’s said that what the míster did during the halftime against Villarreal was great – the explanation of the tactical changes with the bottles of water on the ground.
A: (Hesitates a moment and then smiles) You have good sources of information, jajaja!! I believe that we should never talk about what happens inside the locker room. I’m not going to talk about this. All I’ll say is that the míster wanted us to improve and he was able to get us to do so.
Q: Has Mourinho taken pressure and some of the media attention off of you?
A: Yes, Mou has taken a lot of pressure off of me, and I’m happy for that. It’s good for me, because he’s a coach that generates a lot of front pages and covers, and people like it because he generates debates. They might say good or bad things, but the important thing is that they speak about him.
Q: Is the criticism that he receives justified? Not a day goes by without some issue.
A: People can say what they like, but they don’t know him. Sometimes I laugh because I read things that make no sense. Those are opinions, and we live in a democratic country where people can say what they want. I don’t really read all of it, but from what little I’ve seen, many of the things that have been said are not true or are not justified. It’s part of football, and his character.
Q: Tell us what Mourinho is like with his players.
A: He defends his players, and he talks a lot with us. He’s a very open person and he listens to what you have to say, and he debates with us. I love working with him. My relationship with him, as well as the relationship between him and almost all of the players, is perfect [which just brings up the question, who is not included in the "almost all"?]. I hope it continues like that for many years.
Q: Can you argue with him?
A: (Hesitates for a moment) Semantic issues, yes. Things about the group or the team, yes. He may or may not agree with us, but he does listen to everything.
Q: Casillas managed to get him to delay the concentración by two hours before the last Copa del Rey game. This seems to be an issue that the team won’t give up on.
A: Yes, it’s true. Bit by bit, we’re going to see if we can continue to negotiate (laughs).
Q: Do you identify with Mourinho’s personality, with his tremendous ambition?
A: Yes, very much so. Now that I’ve worked with him, I see that we have more things in common than I believed. I love working with persons as ambitious as him, who want to win. It makes me happy and I like it.
Q: Would you like to be the captain of Real Madrid?
A: It would be an honor, but it’s not something that attracts me. I don’t feel like a leader; we all have our own personality and I can lead in other ways. I feel like an important player and I can be a leader in some things, in my own way, the same that Sergio Ramos or Iker do in other ways.
Q: Benzema is not taking advantage of Higuaín’s absence. How do you see him?
A: My sincere opinion is that Benzema does not deserve all the things that are being said about him. If you analyze his last few games, you’ll see that he’s making an effort, that he’s fighting. Sometimes things don’t go well, but Karim has an enormous value for us.
Q: You could teach him about ambition. No one doubts that he’s talented, but he seems to be a bit too apathetic.
A: Each person has his own character, and he’s not doing badly. I think he’s doing well: he’s improving, helping out the team and he’s contributed in the last few games. Benzema is making an effort, and we don’t need to pressure him.
Q: Do you believe he will triumph in Real Madrid?
A: Why not? It will be much better for him if he’s allowed to work in peace and not so much is said about him.
Q: Who do you feel more comfortable with, Benzema or Higuaín?
A: With both, that’s the truth! I swear (laughs)! But there are always players that you enjoy playing with more than others. I like both of them. They’re both phenomenal boys, so it’s not fair to say who I like playing with more. Mourinho knows what I think.
The big belt buckle strikes again! But at least it’s not a CR7 one, no? And I’m betting that’s not a Timeforce watch. But no Armani jeans? When he’s the current face of the campaign? Hmmm…
Q: Of the young talents out there, who do you see as your successor, who resembles you?
A: I don’t see anyone like me, with my specific characteristics. There are a lot of great players. On Real Madrid, we have Di María, Özil, Canales…
Q: What’s your opinion on Canales?
A: He’s great. But he needs more time, because he’s still growing. He’ll be a fantastic player.
Q: Could he become a superstar?
A: Yes, if he’s allowed to play without pressure. He has the makings of a star, details which surprise all of us in the training sessions, but he still has a lot left to learn. I like him a lot.
Q: Are you surprised by Di María’s performance?
A: Yes, although I was already familiar with him, since I follow the Portuguese league on TV and I saw him play many times with Benfica. I wasn’t completely surprised because I knew when he signed that he would do well. He’s the one that runs and fights the most on the team. A great team always needs a footballer like that. Right now he’s one of the most in-shape players on the team.
Q: Of the canteranos that have trained with the first team, which one do you believe will go the farthest?
A: I’ve seen some with a lot of quality in the few times they’ve trained with us. Morata is a good player: he’s young, big, and he’s learning a lot and he could be a great footballer in the future. I also see Juanfran doing big things, and Mateos as well.
Q: Have you met Jesé?
A: I’ve met all of them, but it’s difficult for me to remember everyone’s names.
Q: Kaká started the game against Almería. Before his injury, the two of you had connected very well, both on and off the field. How is he doing now?
A: He will bring a lot of happiness to Madrid’s fans. He’s working very hard to return to how he was and I’m convinced he’s going to succeed. If he doesn’t suffer any more injuries, he’s going to be very important for us because he’s still a superstar.
Q: On the field, it’s clear that he still needs to get back into the rhythm of games. Have you noticed his progression in the training sessions?
A: Yes, Kaká is improving. He’s not at 100 percent yet, and he needs to continue improving and playing. He’ll return to the competitive level he had, but it will be a bit difficult, since he had a serious injury and was operated on.
Q: His situation and that of Ronaldinho are different, no?
A: Yes, you can’t compare the two. Kaká is a very religious boy, a great person and he likes to work. He’s one of the my best friends on the team, along with Pepe and Marcelo, because we speak Portuguese. But I’m also good friend with Iker, Sergio… the truth is that I’m surprised and saddened when people say I don’t get along with others. [Ok, Spanish (including Catalán) - and Italian - press, stop making Cristiano sad!!!]
Q: You’re referring to Casillas.
A: Yes. I don’t understand it. These things make me sad. When it’s said that I’m not playing well or that I’m an idiot, I respect that because those are opinions. But I get upset when things like this are said. I don’t know where they come from! It’s rubbish! I get along with everyone, really I do. If you ask my teammates, all of them will say the same thing.
Q: What did you think when it was alleged that you and Iker didn’t speak?
A: I was shocked. How is that possible? I was good, I was scoring, my family was good, and then this happened. It was a senseless controversy. I talked about it with him.
Q: The day that Sara Carbonero, as a journalist, criticized you, you and Iker ended up joking about it via SMS, no?
A: We spoke in that moment and cleared everything up. It was a misunderstanding on my part and on the part of Iker and his girlfriend, but it’s normal, and we talked and made things right. It’s not necessary to dramatize it or stir up controversy. We’re good, and I get along well with Iker and with his girlfriend. There’s nothing more to it.
Q: What do you think about Pepe’s contract renewal?
A: If I were president Florentino, I would have resigned him already. Today. I would call him and say, “Hey Pepe, come on over, we’re going to resign you” (laughs). To me, he’s a phenomenal player who has to stay with Real Madrid. I say this not only because he’s my friend, but because he’s a world class player. If we already have him, it doesn’t make sense to let him go, don’t you think? It’s a matter of paying some money and signing some papers.
Q: Well, it appears that he’s asked for a lot more money.
A: No, that’s what you all think. He asked for what he deserves. He has to continue with us. I would like this matter to be settled already, and I have the hope that our president will resign him because he’s one of the best in the world. I’m convinced they’ll reach an agreement.