CRISTIANO RONALDO has been told to retire before he tarnishes his legacy by UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The Russian accepts that at 31 and 34 respectively both he and his friend Ronaldo are coming to the end of their careers.
He understands the desire to continue at the top level for as long as possible but believes it could be in Ronaldo’s interests to hang up his boots sooner rather than later.
“Nobody will be around forever, so it’s important to leave at the right time,” Khabib said.
“How old is Ronaldo? 34? At 35 he won’t have the same conditioning and reaction time. It doesn’t mater if it’s Cristiano or Khabib, people will come and take your place.
“My advice to him, and to me as well, is to leave at the right time.
“If you don’t, you’ll be left as there’ll be new champions, younger, hungrier, more motivated guys. You won’t have the motivation you’ve had at the beginning of your career towards its end.”
Ronaldo has previously stated his desire to continue playing until he is 40 and remains one of the leading strikers in European football.
His output has, however, seen a drop in recent years and his return of 28 goals for Juventus last season was the lowest since he managed 26 in 2008/09 – his final campaign at Manchester United.
With Khabib contemplating his own long-term future, he understands the difficulty in calling it a day on a sport which has consumed your life.
But he says that even the very best can’t win the battle with time.
“It’s hard to leave something you’ve done for your whole life,” he said.
“But it doesn’t matter whether you want to retire or not. The time will come when, if you don’t leave the sport, the sport will leave you.”
Ronaldo’s move to Juventus in the summer of 2018 was seen by some as an attempt to prolong his career.
The Italian giants play a slower style to that which saw Ronaldo and Real Madrid enjoy such success over the past decade.
The Portuguese forward has also been afforded breaks by his national side over the past two seasons and has not been selected for certain fixtures.
Khabib, meanwhile, retains a flawless 28-0 record and has scalps including Conor McGregor and Edson Barboza to his name