The 21-year-old striker received a surprise start past five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and rewarded manager Fernando Santos with a brilliant game winner.
“Even in my wildest dreams, I hadn’t thought of making my first start in a World Cup knockout game and scoring three goals,” he said. “But you have to think match by match and prepare for the match (quarter-final with Morocco). This result no longer matters now. We will give everything in the next match.”
Ramos was just two years old when Ronaldo made his debut for Portugal and has often spoken of his admiration for the 37-year-old.
The Lusail Stadium ‘man of the match’ was asked how the dressing room – and Ronaldo – reacted to Santos’ surprise team selection.
“Honestly, no one in the team talked about it. Cristiano, as captain, did what he does, he helped, he spoke to us, not just myself but my teammates,” did he declare.
“Cristiano Ronaldo has always been a role model, he is an idol for many. I also like (Robert) Lewandowski and (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic,” he added.
A six-goal outing to send Portugal into the quarter-finals 🇵🇹#FIFAWorldCup | #Qatar2022
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) 1670362016000
Ramos was making just his fourth appearance for the national team, having played ten minutes in two games in the group stage.
He only made his debut on 17 November in a pre-World Cup friendly against Nigeria, coming on as a 67th-minute substitute and scoring quickly 15 minutes later with the fourth goal in a 4-0 win .
The Algarve-born striker burst onto the scene with Benfica this season after being given an enhanced role as a centre-forward following the sale of Darwin Nunez to Liverpool.
He scored 14 goals in 21 games in all competitions, adapting quickly to his new role.
Today’s hat-trick hero doesn’t let go of that ball 😂#FIFAWorldCup | #Qatar2022
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) 1670362869000
“My favorite position is attacking, but last year I was asked to play in support of Darwin. It is clear that with his departure a space has opened up for me. It’s great to have now the role I love the most,” he said in a recent interview.
Should he continue his impressive impact on this Portuguese side in the quarter-finals against Morocco, he would surely find himself the target of the same type of big-money approach that saw Nunez leave.
But for now, his thoughts are only to contribute to Santos’ increasingly impressive squad and he doesn’t even take his starting role for granted.
“It’s something that doesn’t concern me. I always work to the maximum and I hope it’s obvious,” he said.