Cristiano Ronaldo has shot down speculation that he will quit the Portugal national team after his side crashed out of the World Cup.
The Portuguese was dropped to the bench in Portugal’s last two World Cup games, much to his frustration. Speculation had suggested that Ronaldo was so unhappy with the decision of head coach Fernando Santos to bench him, that he asked to be allowed to go home.
However, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has denied such allegations, restating his love for his country in an emotional statement.
“Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career,” he wrote on his social media handle.
“Fortunately I won many titles of international dimension, including Portugal, but putting our country’s name on the highest foot in the World was my biggest dream.
“I fought for it. I fought hard for this dream. In the five appearances, I scored in World Cups over 16 years, always by the side of great players and supported by millions of Portuguese. I gave my all. Leave it all out on the field. I never turned my face to the fight, and I never gave up on that dream.
“Sadly yesterday (Friday) the dream ended. It’s not worth reacting in the heat of the moment. I just want you all to know that much has been said, much has been written, and much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has not changed, not for a moment. I was always one fighting for the objective of all and I would never turn my back on my colleagues and my country.
“Not much more to say for now. Thank you, Portugal. Thank you, Qatar. The dream was nice while it lasted… Now, it’s hoping that time will be a good advisor and allow each one to draw their own conclusions.”
Meanwhile, speaking in his post-match interview after watching his side eliminated by Morocco, Portugal coach Fernando Santos has revealed he did not regret not starting Ronaldo.
“I do not regret (leaving Ronaldo on the bench),” Santos said.
“It wouldn’t change anything. In terms of the team, I can’t be thinking with my heart.
“I used the team that played really well against Switzerland and there was no reason to change it (against Morocco).
“The strategic decision that I had to make was one of the hardest, but I can’t think with my heart. I have to think with my head.
“It’s not that Ronaldo is no longer a great player, that has nothing to do with it.”