Records keep me going: Ronaldo on almost retiring post 2022 World Cup

Riyadh: For Portugal, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar ended with a 1-0 defeat to Morocco in the quarter finals and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the pitch in tears. Ronaldo had been dropped from the starting XI in the Round of 16 and the final eight fixtures following reports of friction between him and the then manager Fernando Santos, leading many to believe if the tournament was the last sighting of the five-time Ballon D’or winner for his national side.

Ahead of the match against Liechtenstein on Thursday, Ronaldo admitted that while he did consider retiring from international football post the defeat, the number seven reached the conclusion to not ‘throw in the towel’.

“It was all in the balance after the World Cup. I’m not going to lie. In our life, we have to put everything on the scale,” Ronaldo told reporters on Wednesday. “I reflected with my family and then we came to the conclusion that it was not time to throw in the towel. I learned a lot from it and I’m very happy to be back. The coach says he wants me in the squad. I feel that I still have a lot to give and I want to keep it going.”

The 38-year-old added, “I’m glad to be back. Roberto Martinez showed that he counted on me. I’ve always wanted to play. As you know, he talked to everyone and to me, too. And I was able to realise that I have a lot to give to the national team. I feel it, I want it, and my desire is to take Portugal to the highest level. I will always give my contribution when they need me.”

Ronaldo, who is set to break the all-time record for appearances with a national team after tying Bader Al-Mutawa’s mark of 196 outings for Kuwait during last year’s World Cup, also added on his motivation to continue playing.

“Records are always positive,” Ronaldo said. “They are my motivation. I like to break records and this record is special. I’ll be really proud if it happens, but I want to keep playing even more games, I don’t want to stop here.”

Meanwhile for Roberto Martinez, who took over the Portugal job following his stint with the Belgium men’s national team that ended post World Cup, Ronaldo remains in contention as the team captain.

“There are a lot of different players, possibly the system will change, but it’s not for me to talk about it. Changes are good in life. What we feel in the national team is very positive. It feels like something special and positive. The intensity is very good, it’s different. I’m sure the national team will be prepared for whatever comes. I’m sure Portugal will be a team with more attacking.”

Following Liechtenstein, Portugal will also face Luxembourg on Sunday to mark the beginning of their 2024 Euro qualification campaign during the international break.


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