‘Ronaldo Still Doesn’t Realise He’s Not 25 Years Old’ —Man United Legend, Cantona
Legendary Manchester United skipper Eric Cantona has said Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to come to terms that he is no longer young and is nearing the end of his career.
Ronaldo returned to United in 2021 and scored 24 goals in all competitions in his first season back at the club.
However, he fell out of favour under Erik ten Hag at the start of the current campaign, and subsequently gave a controversial interview where he criticised the manager and former players of the club.
That interview marked the end of his time at United, as his contract was terminated and he has now joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr.
Ronaldo turns 38 next month, and Cantona thinks Ronaldo’s downfall at United was caused by him not accepting that he is getting older, and that his role in the team had changed
“I think you have two kinds of players at the end of their career. Me, I decided to retire young, that’s another thing. And then the one who wants to play and play until the age of 40 years old,” Cantona told the Manchester Evening News.
“You have two kind of players: the one who wants to play every game because they still think they’re 25 years old and the ones who realise they are not 25 years old and they are here to help the young players, they know they will not play every game, they know they will play some games.
“But their part is to help the young players. Like (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic still does it with Milan, Ryan Giggs or (Paolo) Maldini when he was in Milan.
“But I think Ronaldo didn’t realise – and he still doesn’t realise – he’s not 25 years old. He’s just older and he should have realised that instead of being not happy to play some games, say, “OK, I am not 25 years old, I cannot play every game, but I will help the young players and accept that situation and that’s my situation”‘.
Cantona sensationally walked away from football when he was just 30 and still seemingly at the peak of his powers, having helped United to four league titles in five seasons.
He has since made a career for himself in the film industry as an actor, director and producer, as he proved that he could move on from football.
But he is fully aware of how hard it can be to come to terms with retirement, and has hinted that he feels some sympathy for Ronaldo by comparing the end of a career to dying.
“It’s like everything in the world, you have people who accept they are older. You have to accept it. In everything we do. Not only in football. In everything,’ he continued.
“I cannot run as fast as when I was 30 years old, I have to accept it. I have to accept I will die someday. It’s difficult to accept it but we have to. And the end of a career is like dying. It’s a little death.
“You have to start another thing. And before you die, you’re getting old and you have to accept you are getting old. You cannot do the things you do.
“You can sing until you’re 80 years old, you can act until you’re 80 years old, but footballers or sportsmen know that after 30 years old, 33 years old, it becomes physically more difficult every day.
“You have to accept that, or you retire, or you say I will help the young generation.”
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