Cristiano Ronaldo's iconic sprint during Real Madrid 2-0 Atletico Madrid in 2012

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Cristiano Ronaldo might just be the greatest athlete to ever play the beautiful game.

Say what you like about his skills compared to Barcelona's Lionel Messi, but it's hard to deny that Ronaldo has worked harder than most to hone the physical aspect of his performance.

You only need to look at Ronaldo's physique whenever he whips off his jersey to celebrate a last-minute goal to see the pride he takes in maintaining optimum strength and conditioning.

And make no mistake that it's a result of hard work and grafting with countless of Ronaldo's teammates past and present vouching for his remarkable commitment to the cause.

All those early-morning trips to the training ground and countless hours in the gym have even paid off in areas you wouldn't necessarily expect, too.

Ronaldo's physical prowess

It's well know that Ronaldo is capable of jumping higher than the average NBA player to improve his ability in the air, scoring some of the greatest headers of all time with a superhuman hang time.

That, and the fact Ronaldo has proven himself to be one of football's fastest players throughout his career, positing speeds in excess of 30 kilometres-per-hour even as he enters his thirties.

CR7 even challenged a professional sprinter to a race during the 'Tested to the Limit' documentary, though taking on Spain's national 100-metre champion proved to be a bridge too far.

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Ronaldo's legendary sprint vs Atletico

For that reason, comparisons to Usain Bolt are ham-fisted to say the least, but that doesn't mean we can't herald him as one of the briskest footballers to ever kick a ball. 

And the finest example of his career came eight years ago during a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid during the 2012/13 season, spawning countless viral videos and racking up millions of views.

The footage claims to show Ronaldo covering 96 metres in just 10 seconds, but regardless of whether the data is correct or not, the Real Madrid star was travelling at a staggering rate of knots.

And if that's not enough to jog your memory, you can check out the video here to bask in the scintillating pace of a prime Ronaldo:

Don't get us wrong, Ronaldo is still rapid at age 35, but peak CR7 was something else.

The Portuguese was 27 years old in the footage and although he missed the chance his sprint culminated in, Real still emerged victorious in no small part thanks to his opening goal.

Perhaps the only shame is that Ronaldo hitting the post of Thibaut Courtois' goal means that this moment isn't talked about more, but we're inclined to like it as something of a hidden gem. 

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It goes to show that just when Ronaldo's fame makes you think everything about him and his career is well known, his brilliance is such that there's always golden moments to discover for the first time.

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