Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Cristiano regrets World Cup farewell; does not tell his future

DOHA ( Associated Press) — Cristiano Ronaldo said in a cryptic message on social media that his dream of winning the World Cup with Portugal is over, though he didn’t say anything about his future with the national team.

The 37-year-old forward broke down in tears after Portugal’s 1-0 defeat to Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

In his first statement since the elimination, Cristiano said on Sunday that “it is time to take stock”, without clarifying whether he would remain available for Portugal after 19 years with the team.

“This doesn’t deserve a heated response,” the star wrote on Instagram. “I want everyone to know that a lot has been said, a lot has been written, a lot has been speculated, but my devotion to Portugal has not changed for a moment.”

“I was always another one fighting for everyone’s goal and I will never turn my back on my teammates and my country,” he continued.

Top scorer at national team level with 118 goals, Cristiano said it was his biggest dream to keep Portugal “on top of the world”.

He recalled that in his five World Cups in 16 years, he was “always next to great players and supported by millions of Portuguese, I gave my all”.

He wrote, ‘I left everything on the field. “I will never back down from a fight and I have never given up on that dream.”

“Unfortunately, the dream ended yesterday,” he lamented.

Ronaldo said it was time for “everyone to draw their own conclusions”.

“Thank you Portugal. Thank you, Qatar. The dream was good while it lasted,” he closed.

The next big tournament for Portugal will be Euro 2024. Ronaldo will be 41 when the 2026 World Cup takes place in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

He is currently without a club after leaving Manchester United during the World Cup following an explosive pre-tournament interview in which he criticized the coach, the board of directors and his English club-mates.

His only goal in Qatar was a penalty kick in Portugal’s first group game against Ghana. He became the first player to score in five World Cups.

CR7 started on the substitute bench in a 6–1 win over Switzerland in the round of 16.

Before the match against Morocco, Portuguese coach Fernando Santos denied reports that Ronaldo had threatened to quit the World Cup after being told not to start against Switzerland.

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Correspondent Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.

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