Roberto Martinez explains why Cristiano Ronaldo is still in Portugal squad aged 39

  • Portugal coach reveals reasons for Ronaldo's involvement at Euro 2024
  • Former Manchester United star spent 2022 World Cup on the bench
  • Nation set to kick off European campaign against Czechia on Tuesday
Ronaldo will feature in Portugal's Euro 2024 squad
Ronaldo will feature in Portugal's Euro 2024 squad / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Roberto Martinez says that Cristiano Ronaldo is in Portugal's Euro 2024 squad 'on merit' after being dropped at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus forward, who now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, is preparing to play in his sixth European Championship, with Portugal getting their campaign underway against Czechia on Tuesday night.

Ronaldo was benched towards the end of Portugal's run at the 2022 World Cup, under previous head coach Fernando Santos, coming on as a substitute in both the round of 16 and quarter-finals.

But Martinez views Ronaldo as an important asset in the Portugal squad, and has revealed to reporters why he still believes in the 39-year-old.

"Cristiano is in the national team on merit. Nobody gets into the national team by just having a name," Martinez said. "Cristiano scored 50 goals in 51 games, consistent with his club in his league, and he scored nine goals in our qualification rounds.

Roberto Martinez
Martinez has explained Ronaldo's involvement in the squad / Carlos Rodrigues/GettyImages

"He's a goal scorer and for us he's someone who can make that final move. He can stretch defences and open spaces. Over the years he has changed his way of playing slightly, but I can only say that Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to back that up."

Ronaldo's lack of appearances at the World Cup prompted rumours of his retirement from international football - particularly as Portugal have an exceptionally young and talented squad - but he is in a forward pool that also contains Goncalo Ramos, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto and Francisco Conceicao.

The only player to score at five consecutive European Championships, Ronaldo has more goals than any other individual in the history of the competition. 14 times he has found the back of the net for Portugal, famously leading his country to 2016 success despite picking up an injury in the final.

Besides Czechia, Turkey and Georgia are the two other countries that comprise Group F at Euro 2024.