Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that he considered international retirement after being benched by Portugal at the 2022 World Cup.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner started another major tournament as an integral part of his country’s plans, but had faced enough questions of his contribution to the collective cause in Qatar that he found himself among the substitutes by the time a quarter-final defeat was suffered to Morocco. Ronaldo has rewritten the history books with Portugal, earning 196 caps and scoring 118 goals, but there was a point when the 38-year-old gave serious thought to bringing that chapter in a remarkable career to a close.
Ronaldo told reporters heading into a Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein on Thursday: “I’m not going to lie. In our life, we have to put everything on the scale. We thought, we reflected, me and my family, but then we came to the conclusion that, despite the difficulties, we cannot throw in the towel. I was able to see situations at different angles. I learned a lot from that.
“I’m glad to be back. Roberto Martinez showed that he counted on me. I’ve always wanted to play. As you know, he talked to everyone and to me, too. And I was able to realise that I have a lot to give to the national team. I feel it, I want it, and my desire is to take Portugal to the highest level. I will always give my contribution when they need me.”
Portugal boss Martinez has confirmed that Ronaldo will remain in contention to captain the side under his tutelage, with the legendary forward looking forward to forming part of another new era. He added: “There are a lot of different players, possibly the system will change, but it’s not for me to talk about it. Changes are good in life. What we feel in the national team is very positive. It feels like something special and positive. The intensity is very good, it’s different. I’m sure the national team will be prepared for whatever comes. I’m sure Portugal will be a team with more attacking.”
Ronaldo has already prolonged his playing career at club level, with the decision taken to link up with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr on the most lucrative contract in world football once his deal at Manchester United was terminated in November 2022.