Man Utd fans set off flares as they protest against the Glazers
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Garth Crooks has urged Cristiano Ronaldo to call time on his football career at the end of the season in order to bow out on a high after his stunning hat-trick against Norwich City on Saturday. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored all three of his side’s goals to help Manchester United claim a valuable three points at the expense of Norwich, who hit back twice to draw level after half-time but ultimately came up just short at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo’s latest match-winning performance marked his 50th club hat-trick and his 60th in total to maintain United’s slim hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. The 37-year-old has come up trumps to bail the Red Devils out of trouble on more than a few occasions since the beginning of the campaign, but Crooks has suggested that he should bow out before his form starts to dwindle over the coming years.
“Scoring three or four hat-tricks in your professional career must be enormously gratifying, but to score your 50th club hat-trick is just off the scale,” wrote Crooks in his BBC column.
“Ronaldo’s second goal against Norwich was a glimpse of the player we saw 10 years ago, playing for Real Madrid. The movement and timing of his header was sheer brilliance.
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“I made the point last week that Ronaldo had been given a wonderful opportunity to retire from European league football this season at the top. Manchester United have provided him with that opportunity and I hope he takes it.”
However, it seems unlikely that Ronaldo, who has scored 21 goals in all competitions for United this season, will choose to walk away from football at the end of the campaign. He is contracted to the Red Devils until the summer of 2023 and remains more than capable of excelling at the highest level, while his internal motivation to succeed is second to none.
It remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will be able to continue providing the goals for United over the coming weeks as they go in search of an unlikely top-four finish in the Premier League table. He recently suggested that he could keep playing until after he reaches the age of 40 when quizzed on his future career prospects at FIFA’s The Best award ceremony back in January.
“The people sometimes ask me how many more years I’m going to play, and I say I hope to play four, five more years, it’s all about mentally,” said Ronaldo.
“I still have the passion for the game and to score goals. I play football since I was five years old. When I go to the pitch, even in training, my motivation is still there.”
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