Cristiano Ronaldo BREAKS Ali Daei’s international record as TOP SCORER!

Cristiano Ronaldo has broken Ali Daei’s 15-year international goalscoring record after netting his 110th goal for Portugal.

The 36-year-old equalled Daei’s mark at the Euros this summer and bagged the record-breaking strike against The Republic of Ireland in Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier.

Buoyed by his return to Manchester United, the striker looked sharp at Estadio Algarve.

Ronaldo, who took home the golden boot from the Euros with six goals is now 34 strikes ahead of the next-highest active men’s player Ali Mabkhout, who has 76 goals in 92 for the UAE.

Daei scored 109 times for Iran between 1993 and 2006.

Ronaldo’s first international goal was a consolation in the Euro 2004 curtain-raiser against Greece, before he scored the opener in the semi-final against the Netherlands.

A rematch against Greece followed in the final and while that also ended in heartbreak, the Madeira-born prodigy’s time on the biggest stages was only just beginning.

Despite only scoring one goal apiece in each of his three major tournaments, Ronaldo stepped against the Netherlands in the group stage of Euro 2012, latching onto Joao Pereira’s through ball to slot home an equaliser from close range on 28 minutes after Rafael van der Vaart had opening the scoring for the Dutch, before Nani crossed for Ronaldo, who sat Gregory van der Wiel down and paused before lashing past Maarten Stekelenburg.

He then scored the winner against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals with a majestic header.

However, Paulo Bento’s men exited the competition on penalties after a 0-0 draw against Spain.

A group-stage exit at the 2014 World Cup was a painful experience for Ronaldo, but as entered his 30s, the clinical instincts that had made him so revered at Real Madrid started to come to the fore more regularly.

Ronaldo’s sumptuous flick and bullet header against Hungary helped Fernando Santos’ side come from behind twice to secure a 3-3 draw.

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Portugal overcame Croatia and Poland before Ronaldo’s astonishing aerial ability made it 1-0 against Wales, with Nani doubling the favourites’ advantage.

He was then a frustrated bystander for much of the final after being forced off through injury, cajoling and roaring his team-mates on from the sidelines as a solitary Eder strike saw Portugal defeat France to secure their first trophy.

Any questions about Ronaldo’s standing in international tournaments had been well and truly banished by now and he claimed his first hat-trick at the Euros or the World Cup, winning a penalty, seeing a late first-half effort spilled by David de Gea and then hitting a glorious, dipping, swerving free kick in the 88th minute after it looked like Spain would take the three points from an enthralling 2018 World Cup clash.

Portugal’s journey ended in the last 16 to an Edinson Cavani-inspired Uruguay, but he is enjoying his finest tournament for his country as this year’s rearranged Euros.

Two goals against Hungary and France either side of a glorious counter-attacking move that he started and finished against Germany show that Juventus’ talisman has no plans to slow down just yet.

That desire to be the best ever was born long before 2005, but the injury setback just further enforced his desire to reach those goals.

Rewind to when he was at Sporting C.P. as a teenager, he was given the nickname ‘Noodle’ by his team-mates due to his slight physique. Unhappy with the tag, he set about conducting his own weight sessions to build muscle, and he had a similar idea in mind when he signed for Manchester United for the first time in 2003.

Working closely with Mick Clegg, former strength and conditioning coach at United, he asked for help to become the best.

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The Portugal international would train with ankle weights in order to improve his game and would practice alone on a pitch behind a hill in order to perfect his tricks without the pressure of being judged if they went wrong.

That is something that has never left him.

“One day, I was in Madrid watching a Champions League game. I think it was Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. They were taking shots at the goalkeepers and, in 20 shots, he missed [only] one,” former Portugal international Costinha tells Goal of a warm-up he witnessed during the five-time Champions League winner’s time in the Spanish capital.

“Most other players missed six or 10. When he missed, everyone started joking with him and he became very upset. I was like: ‘He only missed one of 20’.

“He then picked up a bag of balls and he went shooting alone on goal. For him, he had to shoot all 20 well. How many players can do that? He was not happy because he missed one. It showed his character and he doesn’t allow himself to miss one chance. This is very important.

“Some people see him upset on the pitch because his pass isn’t good or he does a bad shot and they misunderstand him. His character is just like this. I even asked [Jose] Mourinho after training: ‘What happened with Cristiano?’ He said: ‘Leave him, he will be ready’.”

That fire inside Ronaldo to keep on improving is something he’s always had and extends way beyond just football. When compatriot Nani joined Manchester United in 2007 he and Anderson moved in with Ronaldo.

The Orlando City winger recalled the fun and games the three had in Ronaldo’s Cheshire home as they settled in to life in England.

“It was great for us, three young players who like to compete every single day and we had everything there to enjoy,” Nani tells Goal. “We had a tennis court, ping pong, a swimming pool, we had everything. So we were competing with everything even at home and that was making us better every single day. It was perfect.

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“We would even compete as to who was right in situations. Someone would say something and we would argue what was true and who was right.”

It is clear whenever you speak to anyone who has worked with the 36-year-old that it is his mentality that has got him to where he is.

“His mental strength and his professionalism is what sets him apart from everyone else,” former Portugal team-mate Nuno Gomes explains to Goal.

“When you go back through his past, you are talking about a strong, mentally focused player and it’s difficult to shift that,” Xavier adds.

“He’s been helped by being able to play for dominant teams and dominant clubs with good coaches, good surroundings but, for me, the most important thing is the mental approach.

“I think your own history adds something more than your characteristics or talent or ability and I think that’s a big part of the big make-up of Ronaldo.”

The extra sessions, drive, dedication to his craft, diet, training techniques and, more than anything else, determination turned him into the beast that has dominated at the top of world football for a decade and a half.

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