Cristiano Ronaldo has attributed his enduring success to his ability to adjust as he has grown older.
The 36-year-old Portugal skipper will lead his country once again as they launch their Euro 2020 campaign in Hungary on Tuesday attempting to defend the title they claimed in France five years ago.
Asked if both they and he were better or worse-placed to achieve their dream, Ronaldo told a press conference: “As a team, we don’t know yet. This is a different tournament.
“We’re not the same team we were in 2016, this is a younger team, this is a team with great potential and only by playing will we know if we’re better or worse than we were in 2016.
“On a personal level, I’m not the same player I was 18 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago. We keep adjusting. The most intelligent thing about a football player is the ability to adjust.
“From 18 to 36, I’ve learned to adjust. Regardless of winning silverware, I’ve always adjusted and adapted and on a personal level, I’ve always been able to win and also on a collective level with the teams I’ve played for.”
Ronaldo, who has 104 international goals to his name, will become the first man to play at five Euros finals, but he insists personal milestones are secondary.
He said: “This record, I’m not overwhelmed. It’s a good record, but more important than this would be to win back-to-back Euros.”
The Group F rivals met in France five years ago with Ronaldo scoring twice as his side came from behind three times to draw 3-3 in Lyon, and their task may be no more straightforward in Budapest this time around.
Hungary’s Italian head coach Marco Rossi is well aware of the task his men face with France and Germany waiting in the wings, and he admitted he would be happy to accept Ronaldo’s earlier assertion that he would take losing at the Puskas Arena tomorrow and winning the final.
Rossi said with a smile: “If that were possible, then of course I’d sign on the dotted line. I’d make that deal immediately.
“What he was trying to say was that based on the experience he’s had in the past, and all of the dozens of trophies that he’s won throughout his career both as an individual and as part of a team, Cristiano Ronaldo is well aware that yes, it’s important how you start a tournament, but it’s even more import how you finish the tournament.
“We have to approach tomorrow night’s game as if it was the last game of our careers, and that’s the difference between the two sides.”