“The dream was beautiful while it lasted,” Cristiano Ronaldo wrote in a social media post that could be a harbinger of his retirement from the Portugal team.
Cristiano Ronaldo says his dream of winning a World Cup for Portugal is “over”, a day after his team’s crushing quarter-final loss to Morocco.
Speaking for the first time since Portugal was eliminated by Morocco, a defiant Ronaldo said he had “fought hard” for his country in the tournament.
“Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career,” Ronaldo wrote.
The post was accompanied by a photo showing a dejected Ronaldo leaving the field after Morocco’s surprise and historic victory for an African team.
“There is no point in reacting rashly,” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner added. “I just want everyone to know that a lot has been said, a lot has been written, a lot has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has never wavered for an instant.”
Before the defeat, Ronaldo had made history in Qatar by becoming the only male player to score in five separate World Cups after scoring Portugal’s first goal in their first 3-2 win over Ghana.
But, he added, “Unfortunately, that dream ended yesterday.”
Controversy had swirled around the Portuguese captain in recent matches after the team’s coach, Fernando Santos, opted to bench Ronaldo in Portugal’s 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland, apparently after he reacted angrily as he was substituted against South Korea during the tournament’s group stage.
Reports later circulated that the legendary soccer star had threatened to leave the Seleção das Quinas amid his short run in the knockout round in Qatar. Portugal eventually denied those reports.
On Saturday, Santos again benched Ronaldo during the match against Morocco and began his replacement, 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos, who scored three goals in the clash with Switzerland. Ronaldo was substituted in the second half of the match.
“I’ve always been a [Portuguese] more fighting for everyone’s goal,” Ronaldo said in his Instagram post.
“I would never turn my back on my teammates or my country.”
Ronaldo said he planned now to “let everyone draw their conclusions.”
He concluded his post by thanking Portugal and the host nation Qatar.
“For now. Not much more to say. Thank you, Portugal. Thank you, Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted.”
Ronaldo leaves Qatar without a club team as well.
He was left by Manchester United with “immediate effect” after conducting an interview on the eve of the World Cup, in which he sharply criticised manager Erik ten Hag.
Portugal, which has never won a World Cup, must now set its sights on the 2024 European Championship in Germany, the next big football tournament on the international circuit.
However, there was no lost love between the Moroccan fans and Ronaldo.
“Where is Cristiano Ronaldo? Do you know where? In my pocket,” a young Moroccan fan told Al Jazeera after the team’s win over Portugal.
American rapper French Montana, who has Moroccan roots, also trolled Ronaldo on social media over the weekend.
“Ronaldo you had your time g… it’s time for Morocco,” the Bronx rapper wrote Saturday.
Morocco’s place in the semifinals makes them the first African and Arab teams to reach the quarterfinals at a World Cup.
On Wednesday, Morocco will face reigning World Cup champions France in the semifinal round of the tournament at Al Bayt Stadium.
Source: Al Jazeera
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