For most players, scoring a hat-trick in a Champions League knockout stage match, dragging their team through to the next round in the process, would be a career-defining performance.
But for Cristiano Ronaldo, it was just another day at the office.
The Portuguese legend has made the extraordinary seem, well, rather ordinary down the years - but his match-winning heroics for Juventus against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night were special.
Juve were 2-0 down from the first leg and needed inspiration from one of their stars.
Up stepped Ronaldo, whose hat-trick earned a 3-0 victory for the Italian giants, who now find themselves in the Champions League quarter-finals thanks to their star man.
- Diego Maradona hails ‘beast’ Cristiano Ronaldo
- Messi: Ronaldo had a magical night against Atletico
- Ronaldo received a 9/10 rating from L'Equipe
“Maybe this is why Juve signed me,” a typically self-assured Ronaldo told reporters after the match.
Patrice Evra, who played alongside Ronaldo at Old Trafford and also enjoyed a three-year spell with Juve, has now shared WhatsApp messages that he exchanged with his former teammate in the days before this week’s Champions League clash in Turin.
The message shows Ronaldo telling Evra: “We gonna pass bro. Home we smash them.”
See the message in full here…
So, Ronaldo not only predicted that he would score a hat-trick; he also correctly predicted Juventus would ‘smash’ Atletico in the return leg.
The man can see the future.
“Behind the scenes... these are messages between me and @cristiano 5 days before the massive comeback!!!” Evra wrote in the caption on his Instagram post.
“This just shows you the confidence, the anger, the determination from the best player in the world 🌎 we should thank cricri [Ronaldo’s] mummy and daddy and of course god 🙏🏼for giving to us that nice man and unbelievable player.
“Every big occasion with big pressure my brother always proves he is the man!!! Soo please don’t be jealous I just wanna share and if you don’t agree I can’t do anything for you ...enjoy your life but you have to recognise he is simply the best of the best and don’t try to tap the screen for his number 😂😂😂 #ilovethisgame #positive4evra @juventus #finoalafine #world #bestplayer.”
It’s rare to see WhatsApp messages sent between elite footballers - especially those on Ronaldo's level - so Evra’s screenshot certainly makes for interesting viewing.
It makes it clear that Ronaldo had the utmost belief Juventus would progress to the quarter-finals - even if the rest of us had doubts.News Now - Sport News