CRISTIANO RONALDO is making room for at least one more.
Whatever his motivations, the five-time Champions League winner is closing in on Paco Gento’s record.
Long before Galactico culture took hold, Gento lifted the European Cup six times — between 1956 and 1966.
Ronnie, after dragging Juventus into the quarter-finals, is within sight of the legendary left-winger’s haul.
Judging by his jaw-dropping hat-trick against Atletico Madrid, complete with a send-up of Diego Simeone’s “cojones” celebration from the first leg, the Juve forward is in the mood to make history.
“Maybe that’s why they signed me,” Ronaldo explained after another breathless performance in Juve colours.
When the quarter-final draw is made at 11am today, English football is entitled to be afraid.
Tottenham, for one, will be desperate to avoid him as Ronaldo’s record against them is exceptional.
He has scored ten times against Spurs in his career, with four coming in the Champions League.
His former club Manchester United (three goals), along with Liverpool (three) and Manchester City (five) have also suffered down the years. Nobody is safe.
He scored a peachy volley beyond David De Gea during Juve’s improbable 2-1 defeat in Turin against United in the group phase last November.
When he was wearing the shirt of Real in 2014, he equalised against United with a towering header in the Bernabeu before scoring the second-leg winner at Old Trafford.
Although Liverpool kept him quiet in last season’s Champions League final, he opened the scoring in a 3-0 win at Anfield in 2014.
Even if the English clubs avoid him today, there is no respite for the remainder of European football’s elite.
Ronaldo has scored 18 times against Barcelona, seven against Ajax, once against Porto. This guy just lives for the Champions League.
It is one of the reasons Juve, who have not had their hands on the European Cup since beating Ajax on penalties in Rome back in 1996, signed him.
Ronaldo was brought in to shift the mentality, to be the final piece in the puzzle for their coach Massimiliano Allegri.
At 35, his appetite is undiminished. He has mastered his art, challenging himself to win the Champions League again with a third club. It is still on.
When he walked out of the Wanda Metropolitano after Juve’s 2-0 first-leg defeat against Atletico, he held up five fingers to the cameras.
He had been jeered by Atletico fans throughout, given a load of grief because of his history with Real.
Tuesday’s response in Turin to inspire a 3-0 win was peak Ronnie.
He is the ultimate showman, making good on his promise to lead Il Bianconeri into the next round.
The Juve forward had not forgotten Simeone’s provocation, when Atletico’s combustible head coach thrust out his naval to show his side had "big balls" during that first-leg victory in Spain.
Ronaldo exacted revenge with a hat-trick — reminding Simeone that the knockout phase is decided over two games.
The posturing, with his iconic celebration trending worldwide within minutes, is part of the Portuguese’s make-up.
When he scored against United in November, he lifted up his shirt to reveal his stack of abs for his girlfriend up in the stands.
It was also a reminder to Jose Mourinho, grimly hanging on to his job, that he is a phenomenal athlete.
CR7 is still in the race, targeting a fourth successive Champions League triumph after leaving Real Madrid last summer.
Soon enough he will add Serie A to his collection, the sixth league title of his glittering, 17-year professional career.
Juve are clear, 18 points ahead of Napoli with 11 to play in the Italian domestic schedule.
But the Champions League is the trophy they crave, the one major honour missing since 1996. Ronnie is just the man to deliver it.
SUPPORTER behaviour is a high priority for the sport after last weekend’s unacceptable pitch invasions at Birmingham and Arsenal.
It is a growing concern, highlighted even further by a friend relaying a disturbing incident at Gare du Nord after Manchester United’s memorable 3-1 Champions League win over PSG.
The Eurostar was delayed the following morning because of striking customs officials in the French capital.
A small group of Man Utd fans, all wearing club colours, started complaining that it was because of continued negotiations with the European Union over Brexit.
A softly-spoken, mild-mannered Indian gentleman, clutching a British passport, turned to the group and tried to explain that the strike was about working conditions and pay.
It seemed like a jolly nice thing to do but one of the United fans responded by shouting the words “Shut it, P***”.
With that level of behaviour, football has a long way to go.
CARDIFF TAKE A STAND
CARDIFF intend to work with the Civil Aviation Authority and football’s governing bodies to make sure clubs and players never use "grey charters" again.
Striker Emiliano Sala’s tragic death is still being investigated following the crash of the Piper Malibu into the English Channel in January.
Pilot Dave Ibbotson remains missing presumed dead.
Cardiff have been making their own separate enquiries and are disturbed by the number of unlicensed flights taken by football players.
The Premier League strugglers are pushing the authorities for more stringent procedures to make sure the law is adhered to in future.
FER GOODNESS SAKE, RIO
RIO FERDINAND should have scanned the list of Ballon d’Or winners before claiming that Raheem Sterling could not win it because of his skin colour.
Nobody discriminated against the likes of Eusebio (1965), Ruud Gullit (1987), Ronaldo (1997 and 2002) or George Weah (1995) when they won the highest individual honour.
Given the stature of Ferdinand within the sport, it was one of his lamest — and laziest — observations.
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