Po ugal wins, Ron­aldo cries

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

CRIS­TIANO Ron­aldo cried twice in the Euro 2016 fi­nal on Sun­day, once when he was stretchered off in­jured and again when he limped back on in joy after his Por­tu­gal team­mates claimed a his­toric win over France.

When he suc­cumbed to a knee in­jury mid­way through the first half at the Stade de France, it looked set to be a mis­er­able night for the three-time World Player of the Year.

But sub­sti­tute Eder’s ex­tra-time goal saw Por­tu­gal tri­umph 1-0 to stun the hosts and fi­nally win their first ma­jor in­ter­na­tional tro­phy.

“To­day I felt sad­ness and hap­pi­ness. What I can say is that it was one of the hap­pi­est mo­ments of my life. I cried,” said Ron­aldo, who later, de­spite his in­jury, danced his way through the mixed zone in Paris with sev­eral team­mates, with­out stop­ping for wait­ing re­porters.

In Ron­aldo’s ab­sence it was the Lille for­ward Eder who emerged as the un­likely hero and the Real Madrid su­per­star in­sisted he had a feel­ing that would hap­pen.

“I felt it would be him who would re­solve the game in ex­tra time. I am not a wizard or a vi­sion­ary but I al­ways fol­low my feel­ings,” Ron­aldo said.

Ron­aldo had been floored by a heavy chal­lenge from France’s Dim­itri Payet in the eighth minute of the game.

He rolled in agony, was led off for treat­ment and came back. After hob­bling for sev­eral min­utes, Ron­aldo went off again to have his left leg ban­daged.

One ac­cel­er­a­tion showed that he could not go on and he sat down in the 24th minute be­fore sig­nalling that he could not carry on.

He took off the cap­tain’s arm­band and, as the tears welled up, was car­ried off on a stretcher to be re­placed by Ri­cardo Quaresma.

The 31-year-old Madrid for­ward played in the Por­tu­gal side that lost the 2004 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nal 1-0 to Greece and his emo­tional teenaged out­burst then has re­mained one of the en­dur­ing im­ages of that tour­na­ment.

He had said be­fore the Paris fi­nal that he wanted to be “cry­ing for joy” this time – he could not have imag­ined how his pre­dic­tion would come true.

Payet es­caped any sanc­tion from ref­eree Mark Clat­ten­burg for the chal­lenge, some­thing that dis­ap­pointed Por­tu­gal coach Fer­nando San­tos.

“I think the ref­eree should have shown a card. I re­spect the ref­er­ees, I think they are all un­bi­ased and hon­est, but I think he should have flashed some­thing, and he didn’t even blow for a foul,” said San­tos.

“Our cap­tain made an im­mense ef­fort. Twice he tried as much as he could to get back on the pitch but he couldn’t carry on.”

In­stead the stricken Ron­aldo helped to mo­ti­vate his team­mates to de­liver glory for Por­tu­gal against all the odds.

“Him be­ing there in the dress­ing room and on the bench was very im­por­tant, the way he mo­ti­vated the play­ers,” San­tos added.

Ron­aldo emerged after the end of 90 min­utes to en­cour­age his ex­hausted col­leagues dur­ing ex­tra time.

As the clock ticked down, his face was a pic­ture of emo­tion, push­ing a sub­sti­tute onto the pitch be­fore erupt­ing in joy at the fi­nal whis­tle.

His tightly strapped leg did not stop him hob­bling up the steps at the Stade de France to lift the tro­phy and he was burst­ing with pride as he showed off the prize.

It was his last act of a tour­na­ment in which he has played the cap­tain’s role su­perbly, scor­ing a cru­cial brace in a 3-3 draw with Hungary that took them through the group stage and then the opener in the 2-0 semi-fi­nal win over Wales.

Ron­aldo fi­nally has a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment to add to his plethora of club and in­di­vid­ual prizes and ac­co­lades won with Madrid and Manch­ester United – in­clud­ing the three World Player of the Year awards.

He is now one up over his eter­nal Ar­gen­tine ri­val, Lionel Messi, who re­tired from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball after los­ing the Copa Amer­ica fi­nal re­cently.

Ron­aldo’s early de­par­ture de­prived him of the chance to beat Michel Pla­tini’s record of nine goals in Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nals, but he leaves with the most im­por­tant prize. –

Photo: EPA

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, who in­fa­mously cried after los­ing the 2004 Euros to Greece, was cry­ing tears of joy after beat­ing France and se­cur­ing his first ma­jor in­ter­na­tional tro­phy.

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