Cristiano Ronaldo says he would ‘NEVER’ turn his back on his country as he slams reports about his behaviour during the World Cup in Qatar – and suggests he WON’T retire from Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken for the first time since Portugal’s shock exit from the World Cup at the hands of Morocco.
Morocco became the first African – and Arab – country to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup after beating Portugal 1-0. They will play France in the last-four. Ronaldo left the stage in floods of tears.
The Portuguese superstar was dropped to the bench for the last-16 clash with Switzerland and then again for Friday’s quarter-final loss to Morocco.
Cristiano Ronaldo spoke out for the first time since Portugal’s shock World Cup elimination
Speculation in between the two games had suggested that Ronaldo was so unhappy with the decision of Fernando Santos that he implored to be let home.
However, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward denied such allegations, professing his love for his country in an emotional statement.
‘Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career,’ he wrote.
‘Fortunately I won many titles of international dimension, including Portugal, but putting our country’s name on the highest foot in the World was my biggest dream.
Portugal were eliminated from the World Cup by Morocco in the tournament’s latest shock
‘I fought for it. I fought hard for this dream. In the five appearances I scored in World Cups over 16 years, always by the side of great players and supported by millions of Portuguese, I gave my all. Leave it all out on the field. I never turned my face to the fight and I never gave up on that dream.
‘Sadly yesterday (Friday) the dream ended. It’s not worth reacting in the heat of the moment. I just want you all to know that much has been said, much has been written, much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has not changed not for a moment. I was always one fighting for the objective of all and I would never turn my back on my colleagues and my country.
‘Not much more to say for now. Thank you Portugal. Thank you Qatar. The dream was nice while it lasted… Now, it’s hoping that time will be good advisor and allow each one to draw their own conclusions.’
Ronaldo’s future at the top of the global game is now under serious doubt. The Portuguese was in effect forced into forcing his own Manchester United exit after being cut out of Erik ten Hag’s first team.
The Portugal boss refused to be drawn on whether or not he would leave his post after their exit
Meanwhile, Fernando Santos pointed to the future of the Portuguese national side in not selecting Ronaldo for either of their knockout ties at the ongoing World Cup.
Santos, explaining prior to their last-16 clash with Morocco how the conversations had gone with Ronaldo before the Switzerland fixture, said his most recognisable player was not pleased upon being told he had been dropped – in essence for the good of the team.
‘So, that conversation needed to happen,’ Santos said upon revealing he informed Ronaldo beforehand he would not be starting. ‘I don’t do that with all the players. But he’s the captain.
‘I had a conversation with Cristiano Ronaldo. We talked about the Portuguese team but the only conversation I had was before the match against Switzerland to tell him why he was going to be a substitute.
Ronaldo was left on the bench for Portugal’s two knockout fixtures at the Qatar World Cup
‘I told him that he was not going to start in the Round of 16. He was not happy with the conversation, as is normal. But it was a normal conversation where everyone showed their point of view.
‘When a player is captain of Portugal and starts on the bench, it’s normal for him not to be happy. When I told him that I wasn’t going to play as a starter, he asked me if it was a good idea.
‘Of course he wasn’t happy. But I assure you that he never wanted to leave.’
In his post-match interview after watching his side bee eliminated by relative minnows Morocco, Santos said he did not regret not starting Ronaldo.
‘I do not regret (leaving Ronaldo on the bench),’ coach Santos told a news conference on Saturday.
‘It wouldn’t change anything, in terms of the team I can’t be thinking with my heart.
‘I used the team that played really well against Switzerland and there was no reason to change it (against Morocco).
‘The strategic decision that I had to make was one of the hardest, but I can’t think with my heart, I have to think with my head.
‘It’s not that Ronaldo is no longer a great player, that has nothing to do with it.’