Euro 2020 Special

Ronaldo Threatens Portugal Walk-out

Cristiano Ronaldo cannot help making headlines.

First there was the explosive interview with a British TV station that led to his contract with Manchester United being cancelled by mutual consent. He has subsequently been linked with a highly lucrative move to Saudi Arabia.

Then he became the first man in the history of the World Cup to score in five successive tournaments.

And now comes news that he threatened to walk out of the Portugal camp and quit the World Cup after he was benched for their round of 16 game against Switzerland.


Ronaldo in the group stages

Although Ronaldo had earned and converted the penalty that enabled Portugal to open the scoring in their first group game, he had also missed several chances that would have been meet and drink to him in his pomp.

In their next match against Uruguay he claimed the opening goal against Uruguay, only for subsequent replays to show that he had not go a touch on the cross from Bruno Fernandes, who was subsequently credited with the goal.

Again his overall contribution was limited, and some Portugal fans called for him to be dropped before their final group game against South Korea.

Even though he did start that game, with Portugal already qualified, he was subbed off with 25 minutes to go. Visibly frustrated he left the pitch frustrated, getting into a verbal argument with one of the Korean players before leaving the pitch, and then the cameras caught him saying “he’s in a rush to sub me” referring to Portugal manager Fernando Santos.


Managerial reaction

Santos was left less than impressed with the striker’s reaction as he made abundantly clear before their round of 16 match with Switzerland, telling reporters “I didn’t like it at all. I really didn’t like it.”

Although he insisted the incident was over and forgotten, he relegated the striker to the bench for the match against the Swiss, preferring instead 21-year old Gonçalo Ramos, who had come on in his place against the South Koreans, but had never previously started a game for Portugal before.

The 21-year old rewarded his faith by scoring the first hat-trick of the 2022 Portugal World Cup, and Portugal became only the second team after Germany in 2014, to score six or more goals in a World Cup knock-out game since 2014.

Ronaldo did eventually come on for Ramos, and even scored a goal himself, only for it to be ruled out for offside.


Threatens to quit

When he learned that he was benched for the game against Switzerland, Ronaldo allegedly threatened to walk out of the Portugal camp and end his World Cup campaign, although he has subsequently denied it.

His girlfriend, sister and many of Ronaldo’s fans took to social media to condemn the decision to leave him out of the starting line-up, claiming that supporters had been denied the chance to watch the best player in the world in action.


Time waits for no man

It is almost certain that Ramos will now start for Portugal in their quarter-final match with Morocco.

Not only did he fully vindicate the decision of Santos to play him against Switzerland, but his presence appeared to liberate the whole team, no longer obliged to concentrate on getting the ball forward to Ronaldo.

He is now 37 years old, and, whilst he remains in fine physical condition, Father Time is beginning to catch up with him.

He no longer has the same pace and mobility and does not have the ability to lead the press from the front. One of the reasons he found himself in a peripheral role with Manchester United.


He should avoid tarnishing his legacy

Ronaldo’s contribution to Portuguese football should never be forgotten. He has played for them a record 195 times and is the highest international scorer of all time with 119 goals to his name.

However, the way that he left Manchester United has tarnished his legacy there with some fans, and he does not want to do the same with the national team.

This will be his last World Cup and he may well retire from international football after this tournament, if the decision is not taken out of his hands by not being selected.

The best way he can quit the international stage is to cheer on his team-mates from the bench, ready to make a contribution when required.




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