Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is 36 but shows no signs of slowing down.

He cannot press the ball for 90 minutes but he is available for almost every game and has made many huge contributions to United’s season so far.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be his last one, although he has said in an interview with ESPN that he is open to playing on for another six years until he is 42.

That would extend his playing career into 2028, potentially taking in another European Championships or two as well as another World Cup.

Atalanta v Manchester United: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)


“Genetically I feel like I’m 30 years old. I take great care of my body and my mind. Something I’ve learned recently is that after 33, I believe the body can deliver if you need it, but the real battle is mental,” said Ronaldo.

“Going through many things with the focus on the end goal of staying at a high level is the hardest thing, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years. I’ve been working and focusing more on working on my mind. I know my body will handle me because I have a lot of respect for it and I listen to it a lot.

“Life has to have important moments, for better or for worse, but when you fall you must have the strength to get up. I’m happy, I want to stay here and see what will happen.

“I want to find out if I’m going to play until I’m 40, 41, or 42, but the most important thing is that my daily goal is to enjoy the moment.”

Manchester United v Atalanta: Group F - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Ronaldo has a contract at United which runs until the summer of 2023, although even when that ends, it does not seem like he has any plans of packing it in.

He could go back to his first club, Sporting, but that would see him stepping down from the opportunity to be a serious contender for the very biggest prizes in the sport.

Ronaldo’s ambition in terms of longevity does mean that the prospect of extending his United stay beyond his current contract cannot be ruled out.

Ultimately, the decision lies with him but it is almost guaranteed that he will still be in the best physical condition right up until the moment when he calls it a day.

It is that consummate professionalism which has taken him to the top of the game and allowed him to stay there for so long.

At some point, United will need to invest in a younger centre forward, or really push Mason Greenwood into that role, but Ronaldo is clearly not thinking of stepping aside in the short term.

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