After Portugal's impressive round of 16 success against Switzerland, superstar Cristiano Ronaldo highlighted the quality of the successor generation in the team. "An incredible day for Portugal with a historic result," wrote the 37-year-old on Instagram. The selection has excellent talent and young players, one can only congratulate her on that. "The dream is alive," declared Ronaldo.
Ronaldo was on the bench until the final stages of the World Cup round of 16. Instead of the superstar, 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos shone. The attacker from Benfica Lisbon led the seemingly liberated selection in the 6-1 win over Switzerland with three goals into the first quarter-finals since 2006 and the tournament in Germany. Only at the World Cups in 1934 and 1938 had there been higher round of 16 victories. The Portuguese will meet Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday. The North Africans won their knockout match against Spain on penalties.
"Cristiano did what he always does as captain. He helped us, encouraged us, the whole team," said the young Benfica-Lisbon professional Ramos about Ronaldo's unusual bench press role. The 37-year-old then did not comment on sporting issues, but wished the ailing Brazilian football legend Pelé, the "king", "get well soon".
Ronaldo came on as a substitute in the 74th minute, scored an offside goal and became the first Portuguese to disappear from the pitch after the final whistle. "Of course it's tough for Ronaldo, but it's the reality. The reality in which he has now arrived at Portugal, not only at ManUnited, where fate is divided, but now also in the national team," said the former German national team captain Michael Ballack at MagentaTV.
Manchester United had parted ways with their star striker. That was a consequence of a TV interview in which the 37-year-old made sharp allegations against the club and those responsible. Ronaldo is said to have received a lavish offer from Saudi club Al-Nassr.
In Qatar, he was unusually on the bench in the national team, although the fans later called out loudly for him. "Today Ramos showed that Portugal have enough quality behind Ronaldo to replace him. And it was definitely good for the Portuguese team today," said Ballack.