Cristiano Ronaldo has issued a strong response to claims he wanted to leave Portugal’s World Cup camp after their 6-1 win over Switzerland by suggesting “outside forces” are responsible for the speculation. The Portuguese superstar has broken his silence on the matter as reports suggested he had threatened to leave the Selecao’s base and head home from the World Cup after being dropped by Fernando Santos.
Portuguese newspaper Record had carried a report suggesting Ronaldo wanted to leave the squad after he was benched for the game, where his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick in an emphatic victory.
The Portugal FA have already released a statement with a prompt denial that Ronaldo wanted to leave and now the 37-year-old has had his say, posting across his social media platforms with a cryptic image of himself and his team-mates.
Ronaldo referenced “outside forces” and indicated they had tried to divide the Portugal players from within. The caption read: “A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary.
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“A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe with us! Strength, Portugal!”
Ronaldo has endured a turbulent period over the past two months, some of which critics would suggest has been self-inflicted after his controversial interview with Piers Morgan.
His outspoken comments about Manchester United, Erik ten Hag and the Glazer family sparked an angry response from figures related to the club and his contract was terminated at the end of November.
He also received a rare public dressing down from his head coach Santos having reacted angrily to being substituted against South Korea.
Ronaldo claimed that at the time, he was berating South Korea’s Hwang Hee-chan for telling him to leave the pitch quicker, while the Portuguese press suggested Ronaldo has swore at his coach.
Santos claimed he “did not like” Ronaldo’s antics and responded by sensationally dropping him against Switzerland.
The gamble paid off as 21-year-old Ramos shone when leading the line, with Portugal looking somewhat more fluid and free-flowing without Ronaldo’s presence in the side.
But it remains to be seen whether Santos will ignore the striker who has eight World Cup goals to his name and 118 at international level overall in a crunch quarter-final encounter with Morocco.