Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has hit back at his critics in an interview with El Mundo (h/t Marca), saying “even God” can't please everyone and he doesn't plan on changing his demeanor anytime soon.
The full interview is set to be published on Sunday, but El Mundo released some of the forward's best quotes in advance:
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I go to bed with a clear conscience and sleep well every night.We can't obsess over what others think of us. Otherwise, we would not be living. Even God couldn't please everyone?”
Cristiano went on to acknowledge that the way he expresses himself out on the pitch has an impact on his public image. "It's a spontaneous thing, I don't plan it, I react because I don't like losing. And sometimes I regret it afterwards."
Admitting he is set in his ways, CR7 concluded: "If this is how I am, if everything I've achieved in football has made me this way, I can't be expected to change. If you ask me improve, I accept the challenge. But changing is really hard.”
The 30-year-old is coming off another sensational year from an individual perspective, but things haven't been so great for his team. Real Madrid didn't win a single trophy in 2015, and controversy has followed Los Blancos throughout the year.
Real haven't played their best football in the past few months and currently sit two points behind rivals Barcelona in the standings, with the latter holding a match in hand. New manager Rafa Benitez has hardly hit the ground running, and the Bernabeu crowd has frequently voiced its disapproval.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo and team-mate Gareth Bale had a public spat after the latter's agent made some ill-advised comments about the Ballon d'Or holder, per Stuart James of the Guardian. And on top of that, there were several instances where Ronaldo apparently refused to celebrate when a team-mate scored, per Hamish MacKay of the Daily Mirror.
But it's hard to fault the Portugal international for his competitive drive, which is so large it sometimes makes him come across as arrogant on the pitch. Per World Soccer Talk, it also yields results:
Europe's top five highest scorers of 2015: • Ronaldo - 57 • Messi - 52 • Lewandowski 49 • Suarez - 48 • Aubameyang // Ibrahimovic - 46— World Soccer Talk (@worldsoccertalk) December 31, 2015
Ronaldo remains one of the most popular athletes on the planet, but naturally, that popularity will also breed a fair share of critics. And given his tendency to seek out the spotlights―the man built a museum dedicated to himself, per BBC Sport―detractors will always find plenty of ammunition.
But as long as Ronaldo keeps scoring at record-breaking pace, fans of Real Madrid will likely ask him to change as little as possible. Top athletes have to learn how to deal with the people who don't like them or the way they go about their business, and it sounds like Ronaldo has little trouble doing so.