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Happy Birthday to Cristiano: 24 years old

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Despite nursing his way back to full fitness following an ankle injury that was initially expected to keep the Portuguese international sidelined for three months, Cristiano Ronaldo returned in late September.

He is yet to hit top form, but is still one of the most efficient attackers in European football having beaten the goalkeepers of Everton; West Brom; Derby County; Gamba Osaka; Stoke City; Hull City; West Ham United; West Brom; Bolton; and Middlesbrough.

The latest recipient of FIFA's prestigious World Player of the Year award turns 24 today, and despite lifting aloft the Championship League, the Premier League, and the FIFA Club World Cup in the space of a year, the trickster is still desperate for more success with Manchester United.

"I’ve spoken to some experienced players who have a great history in the game and they’ve said, it’s not what you do in one season, it’s staying at the top level, that is the challenge," he informed the club's official website.

"I have to carry on like that. If I don’t perform, I know people will start to criticise me and I don’t want that. I’m an ambitious player and I want to victory many, many more things.

Last season's 42-goal phenomenon has been constantly linked with a move to Real Madrid, and the night he was awarded the World's greatest player of 2008, fresh rumours were printed in the Spanish and British press indicating that a coprighting of the term CR9 had been undertaken.

"I feel at home in Manchester," he said, perhaps refuting the notion he was unhappy with life in the North West. "I’ve been here since I was 18. I like living here and my family like to visit. The only bad thing is there are no direct planes from Madeira!

"But my mum and sister like to visit, it’s a nice place, nice people, they’re always great with me, no one gives me any problems. My life is brilliant!" he beamed.

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Pepe: Cristiano Ronaldo will sign up for Real Madrid

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Real Madrid young defender Pepe has no doubts that he will soon be a side-mate of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Manchester United popular footballer was linked with a switch to Real last summer but Pepe believes it will not be long before the two Portugal internationals are starring for the same club side.

He told AS: "I expect to be able to play with Cristiano Ronaldo at Madrid some day and I expect it to be soon.

"It is he who must decide. He has to choose Madrid, that is for sure, and I think that the Real Madrid executives want him.

"I hope that things go well. Cristiano already clarified his desire to come to Madrid, and it could not be, so we must hope."

Valencia midfielder Joaquin hopes his club form can earn him a recall to the Spain squad for next week's friendly international against England.

The former Real Betis star has been in the international wilderness for the last 15 months but has produced some great displays for Los Che so far this season.

He told Marca: "At the time at the time I was taken out of the Spain side, I was in a great run of form and the team boss counted on me. The truth is that I do not understand the motives for leaving me out.

"If I return, I would be speechless and it would be special, but I am relaxed and I try not to think about it.

"I will give a kiss to my wife and my daughter because they are the first to suffer the bad with me and also the great.

"Now is a new time and it is difficult to come in because there is a lot of quality, but the hope and desire are never lost.

"Everyone wants to beat Spain, not just because they are champions of Europe, but because they are a great side."

Meanwhile, Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o has revealed his intention to finish his career back at former club Real Mallorca.

The Cameroon international spent five seasons at San Moix before joining Barcelona in 2004 and is hoping to return to the Balearic club before he hangs up his boots.

Speaking before the two sides meet in a Copa del Rey semi-final on Thursday, he said: "I would like to spend a year or two at Mallorca before I finish my playing career, regardless of which division the side will be in.

"Hopefully, it will be in the top-flight.

"I hope that they can overcome their current poor run of results and improve their league position."

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