‘Cristiano Ronaldo was unhappy’: Portugal manager Fernando Santos rumours of rift at FIFA World Cup
Ahead of the quarterfinal match against Morocco on Friday, Portugal manager Fernando Santos broke his silence over the rumours.
Cristiano Ronaldo has become one of the biggest cynosure at the 2022 FIFA World Cup whether he is part of the starting XI or not or, whether he scores a goal or not. After the Round of 16 match against Switzerland, where Ronaldo was benched before replacing a teammate in the second half, there was a report claiming a rift between the Portugal captain and his team over the decision. Ahead of the quarterfinal match against Morocco on Friday, Portugal manager Fernando Santos broke his silence over the rumours.
Santos revealed that Ronaldo wasn’t happy when he was informed about the decision on the matchday. Reports after the match circulated that the Portuguese superstar was unhappy with the call and had decided to leave the campaign midway.
“Yes we did have a conversation, and it would be very bad if we didn’t have this. Since I took the helm of the national team we need to talk and have a relationship with players, it’s normal, that’s my approach, to have a close relationship,” Santos said, playing down the controversy.
Santos then explained how and where he informed Ronaldo about the decision and how the 37-year-old had reacted to it.
“When we had this conversation, it was on the matchday after lunch, I didn’t have a conversation with him before that, not on Sunday or Monday. It was on the day of the game after lunch. We met, I explained to him why he would not be one of the starters, I explained it to him so he would not be surprised,” he added.
“I explained to him that it was better for the strategy that he wouldn’t start, and that it was better for him to play in the second half.
“Cristiano was not happy about it. He has always been a starting player. He asked ‘do you think it’s a good idea?'”
Santos urged critics to leave Ronaldo alone, saying that he has been fully committed to the team, who now eyes a place in the semi-final when they take on high-flying Morocco.
“He has never told me that he wanted to leave the team. I think it’s high time we stopped this conversation,” Santos added. “An example of what I just said is what he did in the match. He started warming up with the players, he warmed up with colleagues and celebrated all goals scored. At the end he invited colleagues to thank fans. It’s high time for you to leave Ronaldo alone for what he has done for Portuguese football.”