Cristiano Ronaldo has cryptically posted on Instagram as the fallout to Portugal suffering a shock exit to Morocco in Qatar continues.
Ronaldo was named on the bench again for Portugal’s quarter-final defeat, having already missed out on the starting XI in the emphatic 6-1 win over Switzerland in the last 16.
He emerged from the substitutes’ bench just after the restart with Portugal trailing 1-0 to a Youssef En-Nesyri goal, but he failed to inspire his side to a comeback, as Morocco became the first African side in history to earn a place in the final four of the World Cup.
He broke down in tears as he disappeared down the tunnel after the shock defeat. And at 37, it is likely that Ronaldo’s dream of landing a World Cup is now over.
In the aftermath of the loss, Ronaldo took to social media to say that “he would never turn my back on my country”. And days later he would again post on social media, posting a cryptic stories post that read: “3 aspects of reality: Pain, uncertainty and constant work”.
Previously, Ronaldo appeared to downplay speculation that he will retire from international football.
He posted on Instagram: “Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career.
“Fortunately I won many titles of international dimension, including for Portugal, but putting our country’s name on the highest footing in the world was my biggest dream.
“I fought for it. I fought hard for this dream. In five appearances I scored in World Cups over 16 years, always by the side of great players and supported by millions of Portuguese people, I gave my all. I left it all out on the field. I never turned my face to the fight and I never gave up on that dream.
“Sadly yesterday (Saturday) the dream ended. It’s not worth reacting in the heat of the moment. I just want you all to know that much has been said, much has been written, much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has not changed for a moment. I was always one fighting for the objective of all and I would never turn my back on my colleagues and my country.
“Not much more to say for now. Thank you Portugal. Thank you Qatar. The dream was nice while it lasted… Now, here’s hoping that time will be good advisor and allow everyone to draw their own conclusions.”
Meanwhile, Portugal boss Santos has insisted that he has “no regrets” over his decision to name Ronaldo on the bench for the quarter-final defeat.
“No regrets. I think this was a team which played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano’s a great player. He came on when we thought that was necessary,” he told reporters after the 1-0 loss.
“Of course, our players are distressed, they are upset. We are even more upset because we know we have skilful players, and we were expecting to give more joy to the Portuguese people.
“We knew the challenges we would face, especially in terms of defensive strategy. We tried to make the game hard for our opponents, but we were not successful. Obviously, we also need to give credit to the Moroccan squad. I think it’s not fair for us to lose but that’s football.”