Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t often have words of praise for rival players, but he has hailed Italian ‘great’ Francesco Totti as an example for youngsters to follow

Ronaldo had a memorable encounter with the living legend of Rome earlier this year in the Champions League. Real Madrid ran out 4-0 aggregate winners in their round of 16 tie with I Giallorossi.

The Portuguese captain was recently quizzed about his opinion on 40-year-old Francesco Totti. Ronaldo heaped praise on the Roma striker, saying that he was an inspiration for the youth and can continue playing for another two or three years.

“He has been a great and continues to be so,” Ronaldo told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I realised it last season when I faced him as an opponent. Maybe he won’t play till 50, but I think he can go on for another two or three years.

“It is important for young people, as they need to understand that age does not matter at all.”

Roma supporters cheer for Francesco Totti before the Italian Serie A soccer match between AS Roma and US Palermo at Olimpico stadium in Rome, Italy, 21 February 2016. (Photo by Alessandro di Meo/EPA)

Roma supporters cheer for Francesco Totti before the Italian Serie A soccer match between AS Roma and US Palermo at Olimpico stadium in Rome, Italy, 21 February 2016. (Photo by Alessandro di Meo/EPA)

Totti has spent a quarter of a century at AS Roma, making 764 appearances for the club in all competitions. The 40-year-old is the highest goal scorer and has the highest number of appearances for Roma of all time. He also holds this record for them in the Serie A, Europa League and Champions League individually.

There are many legends in the history of football, with Ronaldo and Lionel Messi currently competing for the tag of best footballer in the world. Before them were legends like Pele, Diego Maradona and Johann Cryuff.

Unlike those players, Totti may not have won the Ballon d’or or accolades from all over the world. However the Italian has carved a niche for himself in history that is difficult to be matched by any other. He remained loyal to Roma, despite Real Madrid being very interested in the peak of his career.

It’s no wonder that even one of the greatest players in the world like Ronaldo is an admirer of Totti. The 40-year-old remains one of the last gladiators of Rome, Il Re di Roma

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