Cristiano Ronaldo: Playing in UCL final and World Cup risked my career

Cristiano Ronaldo has told World Soccer magazine he risked his career by playing in Real Madrid's Champions League final in May and the summer's World Cup with Portugal.

Ronaldo, 29, struggled with a tendinosis issue in his knee and thigh muscle problems through the final months of the 2013-14 campaign.

While Madrid's medical staff reportedly wanted the forward to stop playing to allow the knee to heal completely, he decided to manage the problem by only featuring in the club's most important games.

The current Ballon d'Or holder started the Champions League semifinal second leg against Bayern Munich, scoring twice in Madrid's 4-0 victory, and breaking the all-time record for most goals in a Champions League season.

He was also in the team for the final against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon, when he was a peripheral figure for much of the game, but converted a late penalty as Los Blancos won 4-1 in extra-time to lift the long-awaited "La Decima" -- a 10th European Cup.

Asked if he had put his career in danger by participating in that final, the Portugal captain said elite players such as himself sometimes take those types of risks to achieve important goals.

"Yes," Ronaldo said. "In your life you do not win without sacrifices and you must take risks. We were taking part in big competitions and it was difficult. Things went well, I beat the record for goals in the Champions League. On holidays I rested and looked after my body. Sometimes I bring my body to the maximum, all elite athletes do that."

Ronaldo said he had forced himself to play through injury for both his club and then his country's disappointing World Cup campaign in Brazil.

"Obviously yes," he said. "If I had stopped I would have been fine. I did not want to miss the final of the Champions League or the World Cup. I was not fully fit, but I forced the issue. On a club level, it went well. We won, I scored and the team achieved 'La Decima,' which was what we all hoped for. With Portugal it did not go so well."

Despite sitting out a number of Madrid's domestic games as their La Liga challenge faltered in the final weeks of the 2013-14 season, Ronaldo still scored 31 league goals to win a third Golden Boot -- an award he shared with then-Liverpool attacker Luis Suarez.

"Individual prizes are the result of having achieved collective objectives," he said. "We had a fantastic season. We won the Champions League, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Super Cup. A trophy like the Golden Boot is the prize for playing well as a team. I will not lie. I really wanted to win it."

Ronaldo also picked up a second Ballon d'Or award in January, after producing a number of spectacular goalscoring performances for club and country during the autumn of 2013.

Asked if the last 12 months had been the best of his career, the former Manchester United man said it perhaps looked that way due to the prizes he had won, but his view was that he has been playing just as well for many years now.

"Maybe it has been [the best] for collective or individual prizes," Ronaldo said. "But I have been at the same level for the last six or seven years."

With both he and Lionel Messi now frontrunners to claim the 2014 Ballon d'Or, Ronaldo said his rivalry with the Barcelona player was something he had grown used to and did not see as a major issue.

"This is part of my life," he said. "It is normal that people compare us. I am used to it. It happened to me at United and I know how to manage it. We are colleagues. Outside of football I have no relationship with [Messi], but not with other players either. It is a positive rivalry."