By Alberto Pinero
Cristiano Ronaldo jumped from 10th to ninth on the list of Real Madrid's all-time top goalscorers earlier this week, as he hit a hat-trick against Ajax to move to 158 strikes for the Spanish side, and the man he overtook believes the Portuguese can continue climbing to the very top of the pile.
Amancio Amaro, former Madrid captain and legendary outside right in the club's most glorious epoque, the late 1960s, racked up an impressive 155 goals for Real but dropped down a place on the list of the club's all-time scorers this week.
However, he told Goal.com in an exclusive interview that he was happy to be surpassed by Cristiano.
"Why should it make me sad when Real Madrid players surpass my mark? Not at all," he said. "I didn't even know or worry about how many goals I had scored for Madrid! In any case, there are many other players who have overtaken me - not just Cristiano Ronaldo. I am very proud of my career at Real Madrid, but it's in the past, and I'm very satisfied with my trajectory. It's not just about goals scored, but your game as a whole."
And Amancio says Cristiano's strike-rate is even more commendable, given that the Portuguese is not a centre-forward.
"What makes it more impressive is that Ronaldo is not a striker, but a total footballer, a midfielder who scores goals. But in my era, and before, there were also some very complete players, like Di Stefano, [Ferenc] Puskas and [Franz] Beckenbauer.
"Ronaldo is a player with many qualities, including a powerful shot, two strong feet and the ability to run with ball."
Should he match last season's mark of 60 goals, the Portuguese will end the season with over 200 strikes for Madrid, surpassing such legends as Emilio Butragueno, Pirri (both 171) and Francisco Gento (179), and closing in on Hugo Sanchez (208) in fifth place.
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"It's difficult to say where Ronaldo will stop, but if he has scored [almost] 160 goals already in little over three years, logically he can surpass the marks set by Raul and Di Stefano if he carries on at this rate, and become the all-time top goalscorer in Real Madrid's history.
"Let's hope so - he's a Real Madrid player and the more goals he scores, the more opportunities the team will have of winning. And it will mean he will have spent a long time at Madrid. I hope he fulfills his contract at Madrid because with the goals he is scoring, it's in the club's interests to keep him as long as possible."
Ronaldo will have the chance to add to his tally on Sunday, when Madrid travel to Barcelona for the season's third Clasico clash. The Portuguese has netted in his last four Camp Nou visits and found the net in each of his last five games against Barcelona. Score again on Sunday and he will become the first player to score in six successive Clasico clashes, although more important for Madrid will be to claim a much-needed victory as they trail their bitter rivals by eight points in La Liga.
Amancio, a veteran of numerous meetings with Barca, says the outcome is impossible to predict.
"The Clasico is one of those games in which anything can happen; you never know what the result will be," he said. "There is no favourite because, whatever happens, it won't be a surprise."
|"It's difficult to say where Ronaldo will stop, but if he has scored [almost] 160 goals already in little over three years, logically he can surpass the marks set by Raul and Di Stefano"
- Former Real Madrid captain Amancio
The 72-year-old claims Madrid's current position, eight points adrift of Barca, is false and says the league will not be over – even if the Catalans come out on top on Sunday.
"The real difference between Madrid and Barcelona is not eight points. It's the difference there is at the moment, following previous games, and that can't be deleted. However, Madrid haven't found their way yet and anything can happen in the Clasico.
"La Liga I don't think will be over even if Madrid lose and are 11 points back. It's a big deficit, but there is still a long way to go and Real Madrid would definitely keep fighting."