Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said that Cristiano Ronaldo, who turned 36 on Friday, is a “hero” who still surprises him every day in training.
Despite his advancing years, Ronaldo is showing no sign of slowing down, with his double helping Juventus making it five wins in a row in all competitions with a 2-1 victory at Inter Milan in their Coppa Italia semi-final first-leg on Tuesday.
The Portuguese also leads the way in the Serie A goalscoring charts with 15 strikes this season despite Juventus making an uncharacteristically slow start to the campaign, with Pirlo insisting his talisman is still the example to follow.
“I knew about how professional he was before, but seeing how he trains every day still surprises me,” Pirlo told a news conference ahead of Juventus’ Serie A match against AS Roma on Saturday.
“He still has great passion, he has fun and wants to win. It’s the main thing when you get to play football at 36, when you’ve won everything and beat all records.
“If you still have this desire and ambition it means that you are truly a hero.”
Pirlo’s side can leapfrog Roma into third in the standings with victory at the Juventus Stadium as the Serie A title race continues to remain as close as it has been for many years.
Leaders AC Milan were crowned “winter champions” at the halfway stage, something that is taken seriously in Italy given that only twice since the league reverted to 20 teams in 2004 have the winter champions failed to finish on top.
Pirlo is fully aware of how open the race remains.
“Milan, Inter, Roma, Napoli and Atalanta are all equipped for the title fight,” the Italian added. “This is an unusual championship, but we are among those who can aspire to winning the title.
“Roma are still there to fight, they are one of the teams who play better football.”