Cristiano Ronaldo breaks his silence amid claims he threatened to walk out on Portugal
The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) has denied reports that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to walk out on Portugal’s World Cup campaign. The 37-year-old started on the bench for Tuesday’s last-16 win against Switzerland by Fernando Santos, having reacted poorly to being substituted in the final group game against South Korea. Ronaldo came on as a second-half substitute, but it was the first time since Euro 2008 that he has been left out of a starting lineup at a major tournament, and he held talks with Santos on Wednesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo has ranted on social media after speculation that he wanted to leave Portugal’s World Cup camp – insisting the squad are ‘too strong to be broken by outside forces’. The forward has dominated much of Portugal’s World Cup camp amid his bitter exit from Manchester United before getting into hot water with his national team over attitude and performance issues.
He has scored just once in Qatar and irked his manager Fernando Santos by sulking after being withdrawn in their 2-1 loss to South Korea. And when he was dropped by his coach for their last-16 clash against Switzerland – which they won 6-1 – he is said to have threatened to fly home.
But Portugal later hit out at the rumours, saying Ronaldo ‘builds up a unique track record every day at the service of the national team and the country, which must be respected and which attests to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team.’
Now the 37-year-old has broken his silence since the reports emerged, insisting Portugal were too ‘close’ and ‘brave’ to be affected by outside noise. In a tweet, the forward wrote: ‘A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary.
‘A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe with us! Strength, Portugal!’ Ronaldo has sought to ease tensions between himself and Santos after the coach expressed his fury at the player for his behaviour when coming off against South Korea.