DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo said in a cryptic message on social media that his dream of winning the world Cup with Portugal ended, while pausing before announcing his retirement from international duty.
Ronaldo, 37, left the pitch in tears after Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
In his first comments after elimination, Ronaldo said on Sunday it was “time to take stock” without explicitly saying whether he wants to continue being available for Portugal after 19 years in the national team.
“There is no point in reacting recklessly,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram. “I just want everyone to know that a lot has been said, a lot has been written, a lot has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has never wavered for a moment.
“I’ve always been just one more (Portuguese) who fights for everyone’s goal. I would never turn my back on my teammates or my country. »
Ronaldo, who is the all-time top scorer in men’s international football with 118 goals, said putting Portugal “at the highest level in the world” was his biggest dream.
“In my five World Cup appearances in 16 years, always playing alongside great players and supported by millions of Portuguese, I gave it my all,” he wrote. “I left everything I had on the pitch. I will never back down from a battle and I never gave up on that dream.
“Unfortunately, that dream ended yesterday.”
Ronaldo said he would now ‘let everyone draw their own conclusions’.
“For now. Not much else to say. Thank you Portugal. Thank you Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted.
The next major tournament is the European Championship in 2024. The next World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026, when Ronaldo will be 41 years old.
Ronaldo is without a club after leaving Manchester United during the World Cup following an explosive pre-tournament interview when he criticized the English club’s manager, board and team-mates.
His only goal at the World Cup was a penalty against Ghana in Portugal’s first group match. He became the first male player to score in five World Cups.
Ronaldo has started on the bench for Portugal’s games in the last 16 – a 6-1 win over Switzerland – and the quarter-finals.
Ahead of the match against Morocco, Portugal coach Fernando Santos denied reports that Ronaldo had threatened to quit the World Cup after learning he would not start against Switzerland.
Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal contributed to this story.
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