DCristiano Ronaldo’s last attack was repelled by Yassine Bounou’s two hands, the last attack on the Portuguese football star by two hard-hitting security guards. As he was walking into the dressing room after losing 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, a young man ran on the grass. His intention was unclear, but stewards made short work of it before Ronaldo made the long walk down the aisle. Accompanied by a camera, he covered his eyes to hide the tears that appeared to come from his eyes. Because something big happened here. Something really big.
It should be impossible for Ronaldo to play in a World Cup again. At the 2026 tournament he is 41 years old. It is possible that Ronaldo will play for Portugal again. After all, he is a man of records. Saturday night’s game at al-Thumama Stadium was his 196th international. He moved with Badr al-Mutawa from Kuwait. With one more game he would be the single best, with four more the 200. With 118 goals he is Portugal’s record goalscorer and as of this tournament the only player to score in five different World Cups. But it is also true: Ronaldo remained without a goal in 570 minutes in his eight knockout games at a World Cup.
The one goal in 2022 fell in the first round match against Ghana. Ronaldo’s football world was still fine then. He played 88 minutes, Portugal won 3-2. Then against Uruguay there were the first cracks. Although his team won 2-0, Ronaldo claimed a goal for himself, but Bruno Fernandes was awarded it because Ronaldo, who was sent off after 82 minutes, had not touched the ball. Portugal unexpectedly lost 2-1 against South Korea after taking the lead. Ronaldo was only allowed to play 65 minutes. The star came off the field scolding and gesticulating. The excitement was great, as was the confusion.
“I didn’t like that at all”
Coach Fernando Santos reacted angrily. “Have I seen the pictures? Yes. did i like it Not at all. I didn’t like it at all,” he said. “But these things are resolved internally, and then it moves on. Everyone is focused on the game. ”At least Ronaldo and Santos also had an explanation of the background to the behavior ready. Ronaldo got upset about a Korean opponent who asked him to leave the field faster. Only the two of them know how much poetry and how much truth there is to this statement.
But the whirlwind had not yet reached its peak. Before the round of 16 against Switzerland, the coach announced that Ronaldo would not be in the starting XI! From a sporting point of view, this could be justified conclusively, because Ronaldo has already passed his peak. But he is Ronaldo. Santos took the risk and was rewarded. Gonçalo Ramos, just 21, played for the star, scoring three goals and providing an assist to make it 6-1. Ronaldo himself was substituted on and, because the result spoke for the coach, had to put on a good face to the bad game for him.
But now Santos lacked the arguments, both for Ronaldo and against Ramos. And so he didn’t change anything in the starting eleven in the quarter-finals. Ramos started and played poorly against the Moroccans, who conceded just one goal – an own goal – in the tournament. Ronaldo came on in the 51st minute, showed commitment at the front, but could hardly assert himself. The one goal on the other side of Morocco was enough to eliminate the Portuguese. With them, the multiple world footballer Ronaldo leaves the stage.