Cristiano Ronaldo responds to reports he wants to leave World Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo has denied claims that he wanted quit the World Cup after being dropped by Portugal for the last 16 win over Switzerland, insisting the squad remains ‘united’.
With his club career thrown up in the air right before the World Cup began after an acrimonious split from Manchester United, Ronaldo has struggled for form in Qatar in his efforts to break Portugal’s all-time goalscoring record at the tournament held by the late Eusebio.
The 37-year-old has played fewer and fewer minutes with each passing game and was left out of the lineup altogether by coach Fernando Santos for the Switzerland game.
In Ronaldo’s absence, 21-year-old replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick on his first ever international start, potentially making it tough for Santos to now return to his captain as Portugal attempt to progress further through the rounds.
Ronaldo was clearly frustrated upon being substituted against South Korea, which both he and Santos later confirmed was due to an altercation with an opposing player and not coming off.
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Former Manchester United teammate Bruno Fernandes recently defended Ronaldo, insisting that any player would be unhappy at being left on the bench.
It was later claimed in the Portuguese press that Ronaldo had threatened to walk out of the World Cup, before being persuaded to change his mind and stay. But a statement from the Portuguese football federation has insisted that was never the case.
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Ronaldo has now addressed the speculation himself, declaring, “This group is too united to be broken by external forces. A nation too brave to be intimidated by any adversary. This is a true team, that will fight for the dream until the end.”