Cristiano Ronaldo will ‘add to his story’ after Man Utd with another elite club

Antonio Conte reviews Spurs defeat against Manchester United

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Tottenham on Saturday had pundits, fans and players alike purring over his performance. And the 37-year-old could continue to add to his exceptional career, according to Gary Neville – who believes the Portuguese star could carry on playing football ‘until he is 40’.

Ronaldo lined up against Antonio Conte’s Spurs side, who had been free-scoring prior to their visit to Old Trafford. A tense match ensued in the race for the top four, with both sides aiming to close the gap on fourth-placed Arsenal with a win.

And it was fans of the Red Devils who went home happiest, with their Portuguese superstar claiming all three goals in a hugely important win. After it was confirmed that Ronaldo had broken the ‘FIFA Recognised Goals’ record by overtaking Austrian legend Josef Bican with 807, it was uncertain if he would continue playing until he reached 1,000.

And Neville argued he would, believing he would be ready to ‘add another story’ to his career after his departure from United. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he carried on playing until he was 40,” Neville said on Sky’s Monday Night Football.

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“[We] saw Tom Brady come out of retirement yesterday. One of the great things about these players is longevity, it is so important to them, the idea that they can go on longer and further and still play at the highest level. You look at the clubs he’s played for, the leagues he’s played in, the way he’s demonstrated his skill all over the world – it wouldn’t surprise me if there was another story beyond Manchester.”

The question of where he would subsequently move after his second spell at Old Trafford was proposed to Neville. Typically, players tend to move to Qatar, China or the USA in the last few years of their careers due to the financial benefits on offer. However, Neville believes that he would turn down a move to football’s ‘retirement homes’ – citing his continued desire to be at the top of his game as the reason for continuation.

“No. I may be completely wrong, but I doubt it because I think he wants his goals to be in the toughest leagues,” Neville continued. “Maybe back in the Portuguese league, maybe there’s a story for him at Sporting Lisbon. I can see him playing in the top leagues for another two or three years.

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“It wouldn’t surprise me if he wants to get to 1,000 goals.” Brady came out of retirement on Sunday after he saw Ronaldo score his treble at the Theatre of Dreams.

Many believed that Ronaldo was the key influence in the California-born star’s return to the sport despite being 44 years of age. And the quarterback has also set the precedent for veteran sport stars to continue to excel in their field – which Ronaldo will be hoping to do over the next few years.

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