After a disappointing performance for Portugal against Spain, former Italian international Antonio Cassano has called for ex-Juventus attacker Cristiano Ronaldo to retire from football immediately.
The 37-year-old Manchester United star has also struggled at club level this term, as new coach Erik ten Hag looks to transform the fortunes of the Premier League club, but the former AS Roma prodigy does not see a role for Ronaldo in their evolution.
Cassano knows the decline Ronaldo is experiencing
Cassano stressed that there is a lot to be said for knowing that you must don’t have the same ability anymore.
“A guy like Cristiano has to think about himself and if you can’t do it anymore, then you have to call it a day,” Cassano told the Muschio Selvaggio podcast. “It is a rule in all sports. Retire, that’s enough!”
“He has won everything, he has been a phenomenon, he has earned a lot of money and now he is not a starter at Manchester United.”
Rather than an opportunity to take a cheap shot at the Portuguese captain, Cassano is speaking from having himself experienced the slow, stuttering decline of his football career and attempts to prolong it longer than he should have.
At 36, the then Sampdoria striker signed a short-term deal with Hellas Verona in July 2017, but after two pre-season friendlies left the club without a competitive match under his belt, and Cassano announcing that he would bow out of professional football.
However, 15 months later, it was confirmed that the two-time Serie A Young Footballer of the Year, had started training with Serie C club Virtus Entella with the aim of making a return. He was clearly not adhering to the rules he is keen for the former Real Madrid superstar to follow.
Plenty of time still for Messi
The Italian could be accused of insulting Ronaldo, though, by comparing him to perennial rival Lionel Messi. Believing that the 35-year-old Argentine is still fit to grace top-level football pitches and be the better player due to the difficulties he has faced during his career.
“I have a lot of respect for CR7, but I don’t like him as a player,” stated Cassano. “Messi is like [Diego] Maradona and, when we talk about sacrifices. We must remember that Leo left Argentina at the age of 14 and overcame many physical problems.”
“He also spent four years [carrying the team] on his own, in Barcelona, and these are [important] sacrifices.”