EXCLUSIVE: Cristiano Ronaldo tells us the one exercise that gives such power to his legs
The most recent Ballon d'Or ceremony produced perhaps the least surprising outcome in the award's history.
Not only did Cristiano Ronaldo lead Real Madrid to their 11th European Cup triumph, scoring the winning penalty in the final against neighbours Atlético, but he also lifted his first major international trophy with Portugal.
He contributed towards that triumph both on and off the pitch, netting crucial the opener in the semi-final victory over Wales and playing a major role from the sidelines after injury forced him out of the final early in the first half. It was hardly a shock, then, to see Ronaldo win the Ballon d'Or, the fourth of his career and his third as a Real Madrid player.
“They are all different. They represent different moments," Ronaldo explains.
"To win the most recent always feels special because once you win it you want to win it again and again.
"I am so happy to have won it in 2016 and for the fourth time!”
The former Manchester United man is speaking to SportsJOE as part of the #RaiseIt campaign from PokerStars, for whom he is an ambassador.
While poker can present new challenges, even to those like Ronaldo and Neymar who have reached the pinnacle of their chosen field, it surely helps that the Portuguese remains eager to learn even in football.
There can be a tendency for some players to feel they have nothing more to learn after reaching a certain age or a certain level, but the fact that the Portuguese shows no such signs may help explain why he has been able to continue hitting new heights even as he passes his 32nd birthday.
Working with top coaches cannot hurt, of course, and Ronaldo has the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson among those to have helped him develop aspects of his game.
“It is impossible to pick out one piece of advice, but I am lucky to have worked with amazing coaches my whole career," he admits.
"Each of them sees things differently but each has great knowledge and experience, and I love to learn from them all.”
As well as a respect for coaches, Ronaldo seems to have a love for training that far outstrips that of your average player, as well as a perfectionism which comes across in his raining video. There is one particular training method that really caught the eye late last year.
“This is an important stretching technique," Ronaldo says of the routine [full video below].
"I try to keep a thorough training programme with many exercises to support all the different parts of my body.
"You need them all in football so this is just one of many that I do both in training and at home.”
“There are many [exercises] I prefer but honestly, I give my best in every one of them because different exercises serve different and important objectives.
"I try to always be a hard worker on everything I do and training is so important.”
Ronaldo follows the likes of Boris Becker, Sergio Garcia and NFL star Richard Seymour in being pretty handy when it comes to poker. He is not surprised to see elite sportspeople flourish in a similarly competitive environment.
"To make it to the top of any sport you need to be extremely competitive but also extremely determined and make many sacrifices," he explains.
"I’ve played football all my life and I keep learning.
"Poker is different, I haven’t played it for as many years and I don’t consider myself an expert.
"I’m enjoying getting better and I enjoy beating my friends when we play games.”
All the #raiseit videos can be viewed on Cristiano Ronaldo and Dwyane Wade's social media channels and here. Cristiano Ronaldo is a member of Team PokerStars SportStar