Cristiano Ronaldo has made it plain where he stands toward the Portugal national team amid reports that he was prepared to withdraw from the World Cup.
On December 7, 2022, negative rumours from Portuguese media said that Ronaldo would leave his team midway through the World Cup since he wasn’t happy about becoming a bench player.
Clips from Portugal’s victory against Switzerland appeared to show the veteran leaving the field early as the rest of his colleagues thanked the crowd for the enthusiastic 6-1 victory.
Ronaldo reportedly warned his coach he might leave Qatar after learning he wouldn’t play against Switzerland in the round of 16, a match Portugal won 6-1, before calming down and realizing his absence might hurt the squad.
In a statement issued on Thursday, December 8, 2022, the Portugal Football Federation, which praised Ronaldo’s legacy and devotion to the squad, refuted this version of events.
Despite leading the national team in practice on Thursday, Fernando Santos decided to start Portugal’s round of 16 matches against Switzerland without Ronaldo.
Only in the 73rd minute did the five-time Ballon d’Or winner came off from the bench.
It was the first time since 2008 that Portugal’s all-time leading goal scorer was left off the national starting lineup for a match at a significant tournament.
Ronaldo, who is Portugal’s most-capped player (195) and all-time leading goalscorer (118), was used as a late substitute in that game but, afterward left the field while his teammates were still celebrating.
Days later, Ronaldo released a combative statement in which he insisted that his country’s team stay together in the light of the damning reports.
The great striker has only scored once during his time in Qatar, during his country’s opening Group H match against Ghana.
He had made a contentious gesture while he was being removed from the field during the 2-1 loss to South Korea on December 2, 2022, which seemed to enrage his coach.
Cristiano Ronaldo then posted Portugal’s national team on his Instagram page with a caption that reads.
“A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave 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. Believe with us.”
After Ronaldo’s post went viral on social media, Portugal midfielder Otavio spoke to the media and reaffirmed how unified and powerful the Portuguese team is.
After benching his captain for Portugal’s resounding 6-1 victory over Switzerland, manager Fernando Santos remarked that Ronaldo’s role for the rest of the World Cup needed to be “defined.”
The 37-year-old sat on the sidelines as Goncalo Ramos, his replacement, scored a hat-trick to advance to the quarterfinals against Morocco.
His future has remained uncertain, and several rumours have stated that he may play for the Al-Nassr mega club in Saudi Arabia following the World Cup due to the lack of clubs with big enough means to cover his wage price.
What’s next for Cristiano Ronaldo?
On December 10, 2022, Portugal will play Morocco in the quarterfinals at Qatar’s Al Thumama Stadium, and Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking forward to inspiring his nation to victory.