Was it the last time we will see Cristiano Ronaldo at the European Championship?
The final whistle of Portugal’s knockout loss to Belgium really had that air. Ronaldo, the 36-year-old Portuguese captain, was visibly dejected and the picture was memorable: Ronaldo crouched down, apparently facing elimination from his team. The next edition of the Euros arrives in 2024 in Germany, when Ronaldo will turn 39 years old.
Ronaldo throws, kicks bracelet
Ronaldo was dejected enough to toss the captain’s armband to the ground and kick it on his way off the field, just a couple of months after running into trouble with this himself following a 2-2 draw against Serbia.
Some are mounting, also accusing Ronaldo of poor sportsmanship for his message to Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, in which he lamented the fact that the ball apparently did not want to go in for Portugal. It seemed reasonable given that Portugal outshot the Belgians 23-6 and hit the post, but you are the judge:
What also caught a lot of attention was the heartfelt post-match hug with Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, who will chase all five tournament-leading Ronaldo goals for the Euro Cup top scorer crown:
Ronaldo leaves the Eurocup at the top of the scorers’ table with five goals (including three from penalty kicks), and with the record for the most Eurocup goals scored of all time (14) and the most Eurocup tournaments played. (5).
MORE: Updated leaderboard in the top scorer race
He is also tied with Ali Daei for most international goals by a male player, a record that is sure to fall during Portugal’s qualifying cycle for the World Cup.
What’s next for Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal?
There is no doubt that, barring injury, we will see him at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, when Ronaldo will turn 37. Portugal, led by Ronaldo, is currently at the top of their World Cup qualifying group and is likely to do so.
He is already planning to play in the upcoming 2021-2022 European club season. He has a contract with Italian giants Juventus, although rumors are circulating about whether he will make a move this summer.
The Qatar World Cup will be held on a different schedule compared to previous editions that were played in the summer. The next edition will begin on November 21, 2022, when Ronaldo is a couple of months away from his 38th birthday.
There have been many goalkeepers over the age of 35 to participate in a World Cup, but the oldest outfield player was Roger Milla from Cameroon, who led the Indomitable Lions to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals and later he scored a goal in the 1994 edition as 42 years old.
Will Ronaldo arrive? There are some observers who are characterizing his recent 29-goal season with Juventus and his Eurocup performances as the start of his decline. His Portugal head coach Fernando Santos had none of that after the game:
“He scored five goals in the tournament and, well, he didn’t score today, but he was a true captain in every sense of the word. He tried to turn the game around. No problem with Ronaldo.”
If Ronaldo is even thinking about leaving the national team, he did not hint at it in his Instagram message for Portugal fans. Here is the translated version:
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.