Throughout his footballing career, Cristiano Ronaldo has taken on and overcome a number of challenges but, as he prepares for his first game as a 32-year-old, the Real Madrid forward is targeting the continuation of his excellent goal-scoring record.
Only Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano, two of the best strikers in footballing history, have been able to maintain their form when passing the milestone, which seems to have a genuine effect in downgrading the abilities of top attackers.
Averaging 31 goals per season before his 32nd birthday, Di Stefano only dropped to 24 strikes a year afterwards, staying with Real until he was 38.
That’s in sharp contrast to the fortunes of other great Madrid strikers; Raul went from scoring an average of 14 goals to five, for example, although Los Blancos were a worse team in his final two campaigns in the capital.
Others who suffered include Ruud van Nistelrooy, dropping from 26.5 per year to 5.5, Amancio Amaro’s 6.5 average compared to his previous 13, and even Hugo Sanchez, who went from bagging 37 times per season to just 11.
The task for Ronaldo is perhaps even greater, given his half-century of goals netted in each of the last six seasons, and with only 20 to his name by February in 2016/17, it will take some typical magic from the Ballon d’Or holder to maintain his record.