Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted it took him some time to win over the Real Madrid fans, but he now wants to stay at the club for the rest of his career.
Despite his remarkable goal-scoring form since a world-record move from Manchester United in summer 2009, Ronaldo had to endure regular whistles from the Bernabeu crowd in his first few seasons at the club.
Madrid fans took offence at his egoistic style and a tendency not to show up in big games against Barcelona but were won over in the 2011-12 campaign, when Los Blancos overcame Barca and Ronaldo becoming the first player ever to score in six consecutive Clasicos.
The Portuguese forward, fresh from his starring role in securing his country’s progress to the 2014 World Cup, told radio show El Partido de las 12 that he now loves life in the Spanish capital.
“I love the people of Madrid, los madrileños, los madridistas,” Ronaldo said. “I am living a dream when I go into the Estadio Bernabeu, knowing the fans love me a lot and I feel really good. I feel like I want to finish my career here because I feel really happy, I love living in Madrid, I love playing for the best club in the world. I cannot ask for any more.”
The 28-year-old recognised his relationship with Madrid fans had not always been so positive, but is delighted to have won their hearts and minds.
“At the start I did not know how to impress the fans at the Bernabeu, it is special, with a different culture to other countries,” Ronaldo said. “The truth is in the first years I didnot feel at home on the pitch
“But after I began to understand that it might have been who was wrong, not the fans, because the fans are like that, it is the Spanish mentality. In the third year or the fourth I began to really enjoy Madrid, on the pitch and off the pitch. And now I feel a person who is 100 percent happy.
“Age and experience maybe have made me see things in a different way. Maybe now I think differently than four years ago, and do not make as many mistakes now. That forms part of my evolution.”
His now widely admired ‘calm down, calm down’ goal celebration, first seen at the Camp Nou when he scored the winner in an April 2012 Clasico which clinched that season’s title, had not been planned, Ronaldo claimed.
“I do not plan these things,” he said. “It all began in the game against Barcelona. The fans were excited and when I scored it was to tell them that they should be calm, that the game was not over. And that I was still here and could still do some more little things.”
Ronado was joined in the studio by three children who are currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia, and said he had been a bone marrow donor since he learned of the problem faced in 2011 by the son of Portugal teammate Carlos Martins.
“Many people might think it is a difficult thing to do, but it does not take much at all, it just means taking a small bit of blood,” he said. “I did it many years ago, and if I had to do it again I would as it does not hurt, there is no problem and we can help many people, many children, many older people. Above all for children it is a very serious illness and we must help out.”