Bruno Alves paid tribute to ‘source of inspiration’ Cristiano Ronaldo on his birthday and claims the No 7 joined Juventus to win the Champions League.
Alves and Ronaldo have been Portugal stalwarts for the past decade, most notably helping their country win Euro 2016, and they faced each other during Saturday’s 3-3 draw between Juve and Parma.
“I wished him well this morning,” the Ducali defender said of his 34-year-old compatriot to Sky Sport Italia.
“I hope he finds more happiness in his life. I know where he came from, how much he fought. He’s a winner, he deserves everything he has.
“I was with the Portugal Under 21s. He's a bit younger than me but he was too good to play for them, so he was quickly added to the national team and we played together for the first time at the Euros and Olympics [in 2008].
“Since then we’ve played in the national team for 11 straight years. We’ve known each other for a long time. I know him well as a player and as a person.
“He’s special and fun to be around. He loves to laugh and is a great professional. He’s a real source of inspiration for everyone in Portugal.
“He’s an example for every player in the world for how he got to his levels. His best gift? Happiness, the joy he always transmits.
“He’s a very honest person. His family gave him a very serious education. We’ve also been on holiday together, like immediately after we won Euro 2016 and went to Ibiza with our families.
“The days after winning that trophy were beautiful. It was one of the greatest achievements in Portugal’s history.
“Angry Ronaldo didn’t win the Ballon d’Or? Of course! It’s because he deserved it, but not winning it will motivate him even more this year.
“It’s important for him and his club to be motivated. How did I see him on Saturday? I’m used to playing against him.
“It was a war, but we talked before and after the match. He’s a friend that I’m happy to have. I did my best to stop him from scoring.
“The 3-3 was a good result for both teams, more for us than them obviously, even if we wanted to win.
“He’s not satisfied, he wants to win more and more. He wants to win, for example, another Champions League.”