DOHA: Portugal Fernando coach Santos admitted on Friday that Cristiano Ronaldo had been unhappy to be sent back to the bench as he pleaded for a line to be drawn under the case.
The veteran striker came on as a substitute at a World Cup for the first time since 2006 in his side’s round of 16 tie against Switzerland, which they won 6-1.
A report by Portuguese newspaper Record said that Ronaldo threatened to quit the team after learning he was not in the starting line-up.
The Portuguese football federation denied the report and Ronaldo himself took to social media to say the team was “too united to be broken apart by outside forces”.
Santos, speaking on the eve of Portugal’s quarter-final against Morocco, said he spoke to Ronaldo on the day of the game against Switzerland.
“I invited him into my office and said ‘you’re not going to be a starter,’ so it wouldn’t be a surprise,” he said.
“I told him he would be important (but) in terms of strategy, I told him ‘it’s better for you not to play’. I kept him for the second half.”
Santos said five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo never threatened to leave the team’s side, although he was upset at being dropped.
“Cristiano, for obvious reasons, wasn’t very happy about it,” Santos said. “He was always a starter except for one or two games on the bench – obviously he wasn’t happy.
“He was like ‘do you really think that’s a good idea?’ But we had a normal conversation in which I explained my views.
“Of course he accepted. We had a frank and normal conversation, he never told me that he wanted to leave our national team.”
Santos said Ronaldo showed his commitment to the team by celebrating Portugal’s goals and getting the players to cheer the fans.
“It is high time that we stop with this conversation, that we stop the controversies”, launched the coach, trying to draw a line under the case.
“It’s high time you left Ronaldo alone, in recognition of what he has done for Portuguese football.”
Santos has hinted he could bring the 37-year-old back into the squad to face Morocco on Saturday, saying the North African side will offer a different challenge than Switzerland.
“It’s an extremely well organized team with high quality and potential, and lots of players at Chelsea, PSG, Bayern,” he said.



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