Cristiano Ronaldo Says '2018 Was the Best Year of My Career'

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2019

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo looks on during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Sampdoria on December 29, 2018 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo has hailed 2018 as the best year of his career and revealed he will return to action for Portugal in 2019. 

The 33-year-old won a third consecutive UEFA Champions League before securing a move from Real Madrid to Juventus in 2018, but it was also the first time in three years he did not win the Ballon d'Or.

Ronaldo said he does not play for records, and the welcome he received at Juve made for a special year, per Record (h/t Football Italia):

"I don't work to break records, rather I work for the good of the club. 2018 was the best year of my career. In Serie A they mark me as tightly as they do in Spain, but there's less space here because all the teams have excellent defences. 

"Winning the Champions League is a dream, but we mustn't make it an obsession. Team trophies count and I'm working to win them. Everyone in Turin welcomed me in a fantastic way. We're all feeling very good. I don't know when my career will end, but I'm fine and I want to keep going for many more years. Will I go back to Sporting like Nani? In football you never know. ... It was the right decision to leave the national [team] momentarily, but I'll be back in 2019."

Ronaldo's £99.2 million move from Real to Juve has served to both strengthen the Italian giants and weaken Los Blancos.

Real are scoring goals at a rate of 1.5 per game in La Liga this season after averaging 2.8 per game in the nine seasons Ronaldo was at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The former Manchester United man even ended 2018 as Real's top scorer despite only spending half the year at the club:

He is top scorer in the 2018-19 Serie A having netted 14 goals in 19 appearances.

The upshot is that Ronaldo looks set to add a first Serie A title to the La Liga and Premier League medals he already has.

And Juventus look better placed than ever to go all the way in the Champions League, not least because the winners of four of the last five editions, Real, are weaker this term.

The Old Lady have been handed a tough last-16 draw against Atletico Madrid despite topping their group.

But Ronaldo has caused Atleti problems in the past:

Juve will be confident in their ability to get past the Madrid club as they look to win the famous trophy for just the third time, and first since 1996. 

Ronaldo also addressed the rape accusation made against him in 2018.

In October, Kathryn Mayorga, a former school teacher, told Las Vegas police that Ronaldo raped her in a hotel room in the city in June 2009.

Per BBC News, she filed a report with authorities at the time before reaching an out-of-court settlement worth $375,000 (£288,000) that prevented her from going public. German magazine Der Spiegel revealed that Mayorga wanted the case to be re-opened after seeking new legal advice.

The Portuguese star has always maintained his innocence and he told Record that the matter would soon be resolved: "The rape accusations are repugnant and painful for my family, but I have a clear conscience and I remain calm. The truth will come out soon."

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