Portugal put faith in Cristiano Ronaldo in search of Euro 2024 glory

Roberto Martinez has given Cristiano Ronaldo his full backing since taking over as Portugal coach and he will be hoping that faith helps provide the nation a second European Championship title.

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Ronaldo has taken his men’s international records to 206 appearances and 128 goals since Martinez took charge.

The 39-year-old is set to break more records in Germany this summer in his 11th major tournament, including appearing at a record sixth European Championship, as he bids to extend his all-time leading mark of 14 goals in the competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo not the oldest player in the squad

He finished as the second top goalscorer in Euro 2024 qualifying, allaying some fears that switching to the Saudi Pro League would hinder his efforts for Portugal.

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Ronaldo was dropped from the starting line-up by previous boss Fernando Santos during the knock-out stage of the 2022 World Cup, as Portugal suffered a shock quarter-final defeat at the hands of Morocco.

But he has reestablished himself as the team’s talisman, despite Portugal also boasting the attacking talents of Bruno Fernandez, Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos.

“Cristiano is a unique player in the world, with the highest number of international caps,” Martinez said early in his reign after being appointed coach following the Qatar World Cup, where he oversaw Belgium’s disappointing group-stage exit.

“The experience he has for the dressing room is very important.

“All players have an important role. The younger ones due to their willingness to play and players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Rui Patricio and Bernardo Silva bring experience.

“It’s important to have a complete dressing room.”


In spite of his advancing years, Ronaldo will not be the oldest player in the squad.

His former Real Madrid team-mate Pepe, 41 and now playing for Porto, has also been called up because of his “important role in the dressing room”, said Martinez.

Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr team-mate Otavio will be missing through injury, with Manchester City midfielder Matheus Nunes called up as his replacement.

Portugal will be red-hot favourites to progress from Group F, but Ronaldo will be among those who know how tricky a seemingly easy pool can be, after the Portuguese scraped into the knock-out phase with group draws against Austria, Hungary and Iceland en route to the 2016 title.

Martinez’s men kick off their campaign against the Czech Republic in Leipzig on June 18, before facing Turkey four days later in Dortmund and completing the group stage by taking on Georgia in Gelsenkirchen on June 26.

Portugal are bidding to become only the third nation to lift the trophy twice in the space of three editions or fewer, after Spain in 2008 and 2012 and West Germany in 1972 and 1980.

They suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to Belgium in the 2020 last 16.

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse

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