Madrid - Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has insisted three-time World Player
of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo still has plenty more years at the top of
the game thanks to his superb physical condition.
Ronaldo turned 31 on Friday and has been questioned for his failure
to deliver his best performances in the big games this season despite
scoring a remarkable 30 goals in 28 games.
Zidane retired at Madrid at just 34, but believes Ronaldo has the
physical capabilities to go on longer, and hopes he also finishes his
career at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"All being well Cristiano can play longer than me for sure," said the Frenchman on Saturday.
"He feels the responsibility to look after himself and you can see it. He is 31, but physically he is a beast.
"He can continue for many more years and hopefully they are here in Madrid."
Zidane also highlighted his admiration for the exacting standards
Ronaldo sets himself having scored 343 goals in 328 games since joining
Madrid seven years ago.
"I feel admiration towards him, for the goals he scores, for
everything he does, because all lovers of football also adore
Cristiano," added Zidane.
"Above all, I like his ambition. His ambition to always want more and
to be better. He is never happy with what he has and you see that in
"I admire him and I hope that he will continue like this because he
is an important player for me, the players and all Madrid fans."
Zidane has an impressive record of three wins and a draw from four
games since taking over from Rafael Benitez last month and Madrid
continue their chase of Barcelona in the La Liga title race at Granada
However, Zidane insisted he won't rush Gareth Bale back from a calf
injury with the Welshman being protected ahead of Madrid's return to
Champions League action against Roma on February 17.
"We have preferred to wait a little because he is better but not completely recovered," said Zidane.
"It was best to for him to go bit-by-bit."