​Portugal defender Pepe has insisted that an injured Cristiano Ronaldo was their inspiration in winning Euro 2016 and has dedicated the monumental achievement to his captain, ESPN reports.

Ronaldo was left visibly distraught when he was taken off on a stretcher after just 25 minutes following a robust challenge from Dimitri Payet. He had tried to play on twice, but the severity of the knee injury left him incapable of continuing.


Much had been made of Ronaldo's importance to the Portugal team in the lead up to the match, so the sight of him being stretchered off the field in the early stages would have been a massive disappointment for the Portuguese.

Though France carved out a number of clear cut opportunities, including a glancing Antoine Griezmann header from just seven yards out, Pepe and co were able to prevent the French from scoring a decisive goal.

Portugal v France - Final: UEFA Euro 2016

Extra-time brought more respite for Portugal and they were able to produce a few chances themselves, but with just ten minutes to go, substitute Eder lashed the ball home from 25 yards out to send the Portugal players and fans into unbridled joy.

Pepe, who was named the man of the match in the final, told reporters Ronaldo's absence was tough but it acted as a source of motivation.


"It was tough because we lost our main man," the Real Madrid defender said. "The man who could at any moment score a goal. He could make the difference.

"But God helped us and we were warriors on the pitch. We said that we'd win it for him. We managed to win it for him and we've all earned this."

Portugal had only been in one major international tournament final before: the Euro 2004 loss to Greece. But their win over France means they have secured their first ever major trophy.

"We wrote a brilliant page in the book of Portuguese football history," the 33-year-old said. "None of us will ever forget this title. It's an unforgettable evening for us."