Cristiano Ronaldo has won just about every major trophy a football player dreams of, but one notable prize has eluded him.
The Portugal star is yet to win a World Cup and time is now against the veteran as he prepares for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
Ronaldo, however, has enjoyed remarkable longevity having made his health a priority at the outset of his career.
But every great player must hang up the boots at some point and Ronaldo’s retirement could be just around the corner.
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When will Ronaldo retire? What CR7 has said about retirement date
Despite speculation earlier this year that Ronaldo might be close to retiring, the current Manchester United player has regularly dismissed such reports.
In September 2022, the star forward in fact declared he hopes to play for Portugal at Euro 2024 after becoming the highest men’s international goal scorer.
“It has been a long road, but I would like to say that my road is not over yet,” Ronaldo said.
“I hope to be part of the [Portugal] Federation for a few more years. I still feel motivated; my ambition is high. I’m in a team with young people.
“I want to be part of this World Cup and the European too; I’m going to assume that right away.”
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Ronaldo also addressed his retirement plans in November 2022 in an interview with Piers Morgan.
“I want to play two years more, three years more. So two or three years maximum. I want to finish at 40. I think 40 will be a good age… but I don’t know, I don’t know the future,” he said.
“Sometimes you plan one thing for your life and as I said many times, the life is dynamic and you never know what’s going to happen.”
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) May 15, 2022
Cristiano Ronaldo age: Is 2022 his last World Cup?
Set to be 37 while playing in Qatar, Ronaldo’s age suggests 2022 will be his last World Cup.
By the time the 2026 World Cup comes around, the Portugal star would be a 41-year-old and even his body would likely struggle to play on at such an age.
Ronaldo has confirmed that if Portugal were to triumph in Qatar, he would hang up his international boots.
“Yes. Retired. 100 per cent,” he said in his interview with Piers Morgan.
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Ronaldo’s World Cup record
Like fierce rival Lionel Messi — who at age 35 has said the 2022 World Cup will be his last — Ronaldo is yet to hoist the trophy from four previous attempts.
The closest he came was in his first appearance in 2006 when Portugal finished fourth.
Ronaldo has scored at each of the past four World Cups and scored his first hat-trick at the tournament in 2018.
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When do players retire? Ronaldinho, Zlatan, other stars
Most footballers generally retire in their mid-30s but retirement ages have been pushed back in recent years.
Goalkeepers typically play on the longest with Gianluigi Buffon still lining up for Parma in Serie B at the age of 44.
Out-field players generally struggle more with wear and tear but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is defying the odds and injuries with AC Milan at the age of 41.
Even more impressive is Kazuyoshi Miura, who is still playing competitively in Japan’s fourth division at the age of 55.
Past stars of the game generally hang up the boots earlier than most would have liked with the Brazilians Ronaldo and Ronaldinho both retiring at the age of 35.
Diego Maradona hung up the boots when he was 37, while Pele also stopped playing as a 37-year-old.