Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina says that he never doubted that Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's greatest player, after the Portuguese superstar inspired Real Madrid to a 12th European title on Saturday.
Zinedine Zidane's side romped to a 4-1 triumph at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, with Ronaldo netting twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 Champions League matches this season.
Lemina, who was introduced as a second-half substitute for the Old Lady, has thanked his opponent for fuelling his desire to play football.
"For me, he's always been the best player in the world," 23-year-old Lemina told L'Equipe. "Thank you to him for still being where he is today, and for giving us the desire to play football."
Ronaldo fired Real ahead in the 20th minute before Mario Mandzukic's overhead kick soon afterwards sent the two sides in level at the break.
Casemiro struck a long-range thunderbolt six minutes after the break as Los Merengues again took the lead, before Ronaldo extended the Spanish giants' advantage three minutes later with a close-range effort.
"They didn't steal their victory, even if in the first half it was very tight," Lemina continued. "We didn't come out well in the second half and the second goal hurt us, this strike from 35 metres."
Substitute Marco Asensio netted late on to complete the rout and leave Lemina, who was introduced 12 minutes from time, reflecting on what might have been.
"The defeat was logical in the second half, when we didn't have many occasions," the Gabon international continued. "We didn't play the match we wanted to play, and collectively, they were very good.
"We knew that [the game would be decided] in the details," he added. "We've had a beautiful season."
It remains to be seen whether Lemina will still be at Juve for much longer, with Arsenal just one club understood to be considering a move for the former Olympique de Marseille man.