"It's the preparation – my work ethic," Cristiano Ronaldo tells UEFA.com, explaining how he maintains his passion for Portugal.
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After scoring a hat-trick in Wednesday's semi-final, Cristiano Ronaldo is itching for more action in Sunday's UEFA Nations League final meeting with the Netherlands.
The 34-year-old Juventus striker spoke to UEFA.com as the home side look to add another major trophy to their cabinet, following their Ronaldo-inspired triumph at UEFA EURO 2016.
UEFA.com: How does it feel to be back with the national team and scoring goals for Portugal?
Cristiano Ronaldo: Well, for me it's always an honour to come back to the national team. It's my country and wearing this shirt is a great honour. Obviously, being part of this competition is even more special, and scoring goals in it is the cherry on top of the cake.
How do you make sure to always be at your best and at the same time defy your age?
It's the preparation – my work ethic. I still feel good despite being 34 years of age. The most important thing is your head, to feel motivated and happy, and to follow my path as a player, because I think I still have a lot to give and I feel very good.
The final against the Netherlands is coming up: what do you think of the opposition?
The Netherlands are an excellent team. They have been playing pretty well. I've been watching them in recent matches and they have an excellent squad with great players – young players and more experienced players, which makes their team even stronger. We know that they will be quite a difficult opponent, but I think that for both Portugal and the Netherlands, this is simply what finals are like.
This will be your third major international final after the deciders at UEFA EURO 2004 and UEFA EURO 2016: how does it feel?
As I said, when I pull on the shirt of the national team, it's a huge honour for me and it's a different feeling than it is playing for clubs. It's our country: my family is Portuguese, my friends too. I grew up in Portugal, so it's special to put on the shirt of the national team. And obviously, the chance to fight for trophies makes it even more special – like it was in EURO 2004 and EURO 2016, and how this competition will be now.
Three finals, as you said, and I hope to win two of the three. That would be fantastic and I have hope − so does the team. We are positive; we are playing at home. I hope the stadium will be great, that there will be good energy, that this energy will be transmitted to us, and that everyone can be confident, because we will try to give our best. Together, we can become champions.