Cristiano Ronaldo remembered former Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano on Monday when receiving his award for scoring the most the goals in the Spanish league last season.
"I want to take advantage of this opportunity to say that it's too bad Don Alfredo Di Stefano can't be here to give me the award," Ronaldo said at the gala in the Spanish capital.
Di Stefano died after a heart attack in July at the age of 88.
The Argentine forward helped Madrid win five straight European Cup titles from 1956-60. He was voted European player of the year in 1957 and '59 and named Madrid's honorary president in 2000.
Madrid club president Florentino Perez said on Saturday that Ronaldo was "a dignified heir to Di Stefano."
Ronaldo said that he was humbled by the comparison.
"I watched many videos of him because I didn't see him play (in person), and he was phenomenal," said Ronaldo. "Being connected to him is a privilege and an honour. It's something that motivates me to work more. I knew him personally since I arrived at Madrid, and to me he was an exceptional person."
Ronaldo led La Liga with 31 goals last season, when Madrid finished third behind champion Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
Ronaldo has had a brilliant start to this season, with 23 goals in 17 appearances for Madrid, as he seeks to repeat as the Fifa Ballon d'Or winner. His league-leading 18 goals has Madrid at the top of the Spanish standings, two points ahead of Barcelona after 11 rounds.
"Perhaps I am playing at my best, I am trying to improve on last year," Ronaldo said. "I am happy, the team is playing well and getting better. My goal and assist numbers aren't bad."
Ronaldo's next match will be for Portugal in a European championship qualifier against Armenia on Friday