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Cristiano Ronaldo has been playing with a heavy knee injury that has 'no cure' since 2014 according to a fascinating Twitter thread.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner scored his 60th career hat-trick on Saturday afternoon to give Manchester United a vital 3-2 win over Norwich City.
He continues to be one of the deadliest forwards in world football, but an extraordinary Twitter thread claims the 37-year-old has played with 'tendinosis' for eight years - with no cure.
Ronaldo started his career as a tricky winger with pace to burn, but he's modified his game in the last decade to become a forward who is best in explosive bursts.
This injury is responsible for Cristiano's rapid physical decline at 29, not his age. pic.twitter.com/FcI4swwhcW— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
Twitter user @LLF_14 believes the change in playing style is linked to the chronic knee problem.
The injury is described as 'degeneration' rather than 'inflammation' - meaning the Portugal international's knee will worsen every game.
Ronaldo himself has discussed his knee issues in the past and the incredibly detailed thread includes those quotes as well as medical discussion.
The thread is 64 tweets long and one of the more comprehensive breakdowns you'll find on social media.
We've picked out a few of the key talking points below but the entire think is worth reading.
2. Explanation of Left Patellar Tendinosis— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
You're going to quickly learn 4 things to understand the injury.
A | Location of injury
B | Tendons
C | Tendinitis (first stage of injury, curable)
D | Tendinosis (final stage of injury, chronic)
C | Tendinitis (first stage of the injury) is an acutely inflamed swollen tendon. It causes pain, swelling and a burning feeling in the knee.— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
It is caused by an overuse of the tendon, so it can really happen to any footballer since this sport is very demanding on the knees. pic.twitter.com/oV9pkJnWAu
3. Recovery— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
So what could Cristiano have done once the injury evolved into tendinosis? There's no guarenteed cure but 80% of people fully recover from tendinosis after 8 months of rest. Some sources even say 3-6 months is enough if you start right away with optimal treatment.
"Either you stop for two or three months, or you learn to live with the pain."— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
"I can endure the pain because I think there's something stronger."
"Maybe if I didn't feel the pain, maybe I wouldn't be as good as I am." pic.twitter.com/hMp07yLVco
Lionel Messi is a great human being. He asked Ronaldo about his injury to check on him.— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
Cristiano has NOT been normal after that Bayern game. I believe that's the last game he played before tendinosis clearly affected him.— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
But it could have been a few games before or after that, who knows? I'm sticking with the Bayern game based on my own judgement. pic.twitter.com/68hMiib58e
[ESPN | 9 OCT 2014]— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
Ronaldo: "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." pic.twitter.com/nvkDNcytnb
And also beyond goals, you can go and watch some of his dribbling on YT in both seasons and compare them yourself. He had some good dribbles in 14/15, but far less than in 13/14.— LLF (@LLF_14) September 9, 2021
I don't want to post the footage since Twitter is very strict with their copyright rules.
Ronaldo remains in incredible condition despite these issues and he sits on an impressive 21 goals in all competitions this campaign.
The closest United player to his goal tally is Bruno Fernandes with nine, putting into context how important he's been since returning to England for a second spell.
He signed a two-year deal in the summer but it's been speculated he could leave if the club fail to reach next season's Champions League.
United interim manager Ralf Rangnick is hopeful he chooses to stick around.
"This is in the end not my decision," Rangnick explained post-match per Manchester Evening News. "Cristiano has got another year of contract. This will be a decision for the new manager to take, together with the board.
"Again, he showed against Tottenham and today's game, that he can be the difference maker, in moments like this, in games like this, and it is no coincidence he has the best goalscoring record of all players in history. He showed that again today."