Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo now plays for Saudi club Al Nassr and is still one of the top scorers around the world. AFP / Fayez NURELDINE

Cristiano Ronaldo may have already left the harsh spotlight of European football, but he is proving that he can shine his own light after scoring his 50th goal in 2023. The Portuguese star reached the milestone on Monday as Al-Nassr beat rivals Al-Shabab 5-2 to book their place in the semi-finals of the Saudi King's Cup.

Ronaldo, who is considered a legend both for Spanish giants Real Madrid and Premier League side Manchester United, has been making a solid mark since joining the Saudi Pro League in January. He scored one goal in the seven-goal thriller between Al-Nassr and Al-Shabab on Monday, marking his 26th goal in the current season. Sixteen of those goals came from only 15 league games.

Apart from already scoring 50 goals throughout the calendar year, Ronaldo also celebrated playing the 1,200th professional match of his career last week. He scored a goal and provided an assist during that match, which was a 4-1 win for Al-Nassr over Al-Riyadh.

The achievement did not escape Ronaldo himself, who took to social media to speak about his determination to score even more goals for his current club.

He shared a collage of photos and videos from his year-to-date and said: "Great victory and I'm thrilled to announce my 50th goal in 2023, all thanks to the unwavering support of my teammates, fans, and my family! There's still room for a few more this year."

The 38-year-old striker scored the milestone goal in the 74th minute after a sleek combination with fellow Portugal international, Otavio. Before Ronaldo's goal, his Al-Nassr teammates Seko Fofana, Sadio Mane, and Abdulrahman Ghareeb already put their side 3-1 up against Al-Shabab.

Ronaldo left the pitch after being subbed off in the 82nd minute, and Al-Nassr fans showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. The match eventually ended at 5-2 in favour of Al-Nassr.

It was a meaningful evening for Ronaldo on a personal level, but it was also a big night for the club as they confirmed their slot in the semi-finals of the King's Cup for the second successive year.

Last season, they were only able to make it as far as the semis after failing to get past Al-Wehda. They will be looking forward to make it to the final this time around, and there is no doubt that Ronaldo and Co will have their eyes on that cup.

Ronaldo will also be aiming to help his side win the Saudi Pro League. Out of his 50 goals this year, he scored a whopping 40 of those for Al-Nassr. The remaining ten goals were scored while playing for his national team side.

Even though he missed out on World Cup glory last year, Ronaldo appears determined to keep going both on the club and national team levels.

He has already scored more than fifty goals for eight calendar years since starting his professional career, and it seems like he is not about to slow down. After having a miserable comeback spell with Manchester United, some thought that he will be heading to Saudi Arabia simply to fade into oblivion.

Instead, he has taken the spotlight with him, along with a number of other big European stars. Just months after Ronaldo's move to the Saudi Pro League, he was joined by the likes of Karim Benzema, Neymar Jr. Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

The level of play has changed a lot over the past year, and Ronaldo has proven that he is still capable of scoring as many goals as ever before. The year will offer him at least three more chances to increase his goal tally, with Al-Nassr set to face Steven Gerrard's Al-Ettifaq on December 22, reigning champions Al-Ittihad on Dec 26, and Al-Taawoun on Dec. 30.