A day after leaving the 2022 World Cup in tears as his chances of winning the tournament for the first time in his career were dashed, Portuguese superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo says that bringing a World Cup title to Portugal was “the biggest and most ambitious dream” of his career but “the dream was beautiful while it lasted”.
Portugal were upset 1-0 by Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
“Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram on Sunday.
“Fortunately, I have won many international titles, including Portugal, but putting the name of our country at the highest level in the world was my biggest dream.
“I fought for it. I fought a lot for this dream. During the 5 times that I have been present in the World Cup for 16 years, always alongside great players and supported by millions of Portuguese people, I have given everything. I left everything on the ground. I never walked away from the fight and I never gave up on that dream.
This is likely to be the 37-year-old’s last appearance at a World Cup. He started Portugal’s round of 16 and quarter-finals as a substitute after being benched by team coach Fernando Santos.
Ronaldo continued: “Unfortunately, yesterday that dream ended. No need to overreact. I just want everyone to know that a lot has been said, a lot has been written, a lot has been speculated on, but my dedication to Portugal didn’t change for even a second. I was always just a [person] fight for everyone’s goal and I will never turn my back on my friends and my country.
Brazilian footballer Pele and Ronaldo’s two sisters were among many to comment on his post.
Pelé wrote: “Thank you for making us smile, my friend.”
Ronaldo’s sister Elma Aveiro said: “Absolutely my love, you gave your heart to Portugal.”
Her other sister, Katia Aveiro, added a word: “Proud!”
In his 22 World Cup appearances, Ronaldo has scored eight goals and earlier in this year’s tournament he became the first man to score in five World Cups.
However, his benching by Santos and his recent contract termination with Manchester United, which was announced just after the start of the World Cup, arguably overshadowed Ronaldo’s time at Qatar 2022, a tournament where he won’t scored only one goal.
“At the moment there is not much else to say,” he added. “Thank you Portugal. Thank you Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted… Now we are waiting for what the future will tell us and allowing everyone to draw their own conclusions.