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Cristiano Ronaldo says Portugal are a ‘young team with great potential’ on the eve of a Euros record


Cristiano Ronaldo has few heights left to scale and yet another record will fall at his feet when he leads Portugal out against Hungary and becomes the only footballer to appear in five Euros finals.

Ronaldo scored on his first appearance, as a teenager against Greece on home soil in 2004, and led his nation to its greatest footballing triumph in France, five years ago.

By strange twist of fate, having done so much to haul them to final, he was injured, moth-bothered and tearfully demoted to the role of touchline motivator as Portugal won their first major trophy in Paris.

Cristiano Ronaldo was in relaxed mood ahead of his appearance at a record fifth Euros

Cristiano Ronaldo was in relaxed mood ahead of his appearance at a record fifth Euros

The Portugal captain had to watch from the sidelines as his team-mates beat France in 2016

The Portugal captain had to watch from the sidelines as his team-mates beat France in 2016

Ronaldo was forced off through injury five years ago and turned into a coach on the touchline

Ronaldo was forced off through injury five years ago and turned into a coach on the touchline

As they prepare for a delayed defence of the title, his influence is as strong as ever ahead of the first fixture of the extraordinarily tough Group F, also featuring France and Germany.

‘I am not overwhelmed by this record,’ said Ronaldo on Monday on the prospect of his fifth Euros. ‘It is a good record but more important than this would to win back to back Euros.

‘The team is ready, physically and emotionally. Our players are young but that doesn’t prevent us from dreaming.

‘It is my fifth but for me it’s like my first. I want to play well and have good thoughts from the first to the last match.’

Portugal’s squad appears at a glance to be even stronger than it was in France.

Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Diogo Jota have all broken through since then while the vast of experience of Ronaldo, Pepe, Rui Patricio and Jose Fonte is in place, and boss Fernando Santos remains at the helm.

Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandes are part of a new crop of young stars

Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandes are part of a new crop of young stars

‘As a team we don’t know yet,’ said Ronaldo. ‘This is a different tournament. It is not the same tournament as 2016. This is a younger team with great potential. Only by playing will we know if it is better or worse than 2016.

‘On a personal level, I am not the same player I was 18 years ago, or 10 years ago or five. We keep adjusting and adapting. The most intelligent thing about a footballer is the ability to adjust.

‘I am more mature. And the numbers speak for themselves. From 18 to 36, I have managed to adjust and adapt. 

‘I have always been able to win and, on a collective level, be part of a team that has been able to win. I have shown that the key is to adjust all along my career.’

His own future is uncertain with only a year to go on his contract at Juventus.

‘I’ve been playing at the highest level for many years,’ he smiled, when asked if this might prey on his mind. 

Ronaldo says he is not having any sleepless nights over what the future holds for him in Italy

Ronaldo says he is not having any sleepless nights over what the future holds for him in Italy

‘This doesn’t faze me at all. If I was 18 or 19 maybe I would have sleepless nights but I am 36 years old and whatever come will for the best.

‘Regardless of if I stay at Juve or am transferred, the crucial thing is the Euros. I am going to enjoy this.

‘We are focused and ready and nothing shakes us. Whatever comes from outside doesn’t affect us.’

This ability to resist distractions applies also to the positive Covid test result ruling Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo out of Portugal’s squad at the last minute.

‘If our focus is on something else our faces will drift to that thing,’ said Ronaldo. ‘Joao tested positive but everyone in the team is at peace. 

‘We don’t think about Covid because we are all tired of this. Not just the team, everyone in the world. It’s a sad situation.’

Joao Cancelo suffered Covid heartache as he was ruled out of the tournament at short notice

Joao Cancelo suffered Covid heartache as he was ruled out of the tournament at short notice

Portugal will face a partisan crowd of 60,000 against Hungary in Budapest, the only Euro 2020 venue boasting a full capacity from the start of the tournament.

‘I wish every single venue could host a full house,’ said Ronaldo. ‘It’s great for viewers, it’s great for the players but sadly it is not up to us. 

‘We know the pandemic has an influence. I wish I could always play in front of a full house.

‘Hungary are very organised, very strong, playing at home but this is football and if we want to win we must be prepared for what comes our way. 

‘We are ready not only for this match. We will always be ready. We want to start on the right foot.’



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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