Cristiano Ronaldo, who was reportedly considering quitting the team after being benched against Switzerland, said on Thursday that Portugal were “too united to be broken by outside forces.”
The 37-year-old striker was benched for the last-16 match earlier this week, and Goncalo Ramos, who took his place, scored three goals in a thrilling 6-1 win over Switzerland.
In a tense conversation with coach Fernando Santos, the striker reportedly thought about leaving the team, according to a report in the Portuguese newspaper Record.
However, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward used his social media accounts on Thursday to emphasize how strong the team was.
It’s a group too united to be broken by outside forces,” he said.
“A nation too courageous to let itself be frightened by any adversary. A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end.”
Earlier, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) denied that the striker had made any threats to quit.
“The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the Selecao, Cristiano Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team during the stay in Qatar,” said the federation.
“Every day Ronaldo is building up a unique track record at the service of the national team and the country, which must be respected.”
The FPF claimed that Ronaldo’s use of a substitute against Switzerland demonstrated his dedication to the cause.
In the quarterfinal matchup against Morocco on Saturday, Ramos might once more be preferred over Ronaldo, who has the most caps for Portugal and is the all-time leading scorer in men’s international matches.
“I think what Cristiano said is crystal clear, he’s totally right, nothing from the outside can break us apart,” Otavio told reporters at the team’s camp in Doha.
“We’re very tight-knit, we’re just focusing on playing for Portugal and winning.”
The midfielder acknowledged that Ronaldo’s resentment at being benched was understandable.
“I think everybody is bitter when they don’t play, so that’s perfectly natural,” he said. “We’re still very much united and focused.
“If you look at the images, the pictures and the videos, you will see that Cristiano Ronaldo’s heart and soul is in the national team, he’s supporting the team regardless of if he’s on the bench or not.”
After working out in the gym with the players who started against Switzerland on Wednesday, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner practiced with his teammates on Thursday.
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