Cristiano Ronaldo: New Real Madrid contract will not be my last
MADRID -- Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo says the new five-year extension he has signed will not be his last contract as a player.
At a special ceremony at the Bernabeu overseen by Madrid president Florentino Perez and attended by VIP guests including his agent Jorge Mendes and family members, Ronaldo, who turns 32 in February, put pen to paper on a bumper new deal which links him to the Liga club until well past his 36th birthday.
"This is a special day for me, to continue this link with the club of my heart, it is a unique moment for me," Ronaldo said. "[But] it is not my last contract. My aim for these five years is to keep making history, giving my best for this jersey.
"For sure I will do the same as before, give everything to win trophies, and score goals. So thanks to everyone, my family, the people who work with me every day, and Real Madrid. Many thanks."
In just over six seasons in Spain the former Manchester United forward has scored 372 goals in 360 matches and won every trophy available -- including two Champions Leagues, two Copas del Rey and one La Liga title. He has, however, been below his best so far during 2016-17, and has now not scored in any of his last five games at the Bernabeu.
Later in the news conference when he was asked in what ways he felt he had improved since joining Madrid from United for €94 million in summer 2009, Ronaldo returned to the idea of playing on much longer.
"[Since joining] I have improved a lot as a player, and as a person," he said. "I want to keep learning, in football, as there are many things to learn.It is all a natural process. With age you pick up more things. Not just players -- all human beings do. But I feel very good, happy here. I still have a long way to go, 10 years left [as a player], and I want to keep improving."
An impressive 12 months for the Portugal international could be soon capped by Ronaldo winning a fourth Ballon d'Or.
"This has been the best year of my career -- the Champions League with Madrid, European Championship with Portugal, and this new contract," he said. "It has been a dream year. But the vote does not depend on me. I am happy after the season I had, and this contract too. I am not obsessed by that either, these things come naturally. Club trophies are important -- for me they are key to winning individual awards."
Madrid's record goal scorer said he had been surprised to score so many goals so quickly at the club, but did not flinch when asked if he might make it to 500 in a Blancos shirt during his new deal.
"My statistics are impressive, I did not expect such numbers in such short time," Ronaldo said. "A lot of work by me, and by my teammates, who have been great for me. I could have dreamed it, but it is more difficult to achieve. I never thought I would break Raul's record. 500 goals [for Madrid] is something possible, but I will not obsess on that. Winning trophies for the team is the most important. I feel very good, happy here, the season is only starting, and the best is still to come."
Asked if he had a message for critics who feel that injuries and wear and tear have taken their toll and he is no longer the player he once was, Ronaldo said he did not want to spoil such a happy day by getting into such issues.
"This day is too special, too nice in my life, to talk about that," he said. "I have not been anxious [but] someone who is used to scoring goals can be affected when they do not score. It is part of life. This is a dream year. This moment is too special to get into those things [criticism] that you talk about. Tomorrow, in two weeks, in a month, Cristiano Ronaldo will show his face like always."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan