Portugal Put Faith In Ronaldo In Search Of Euro Glory

ROBERTO Martinez has given Cristiano Ronaldo his full backing since taking over as Portugal coach and he will be hoping that faith helps provide the nation a second European Championship title, while Georgia make their first major tournament appearance in Group F.

Ronaldo has taken his men’s international records to 206 appearances and 128 goals since Martinez took charge.

The 39-year-old is set to break more records in Germany this summer in his 11th major tournament, including appearing at a record sixth European Championship, as he bids to extend his all-time leading mark of 14 goals in the competition.

He finished as the second top goalscorer in Euro 2024 qualifying, allaying some fears that switching to the Saudi Pro League would hinder his efforts for Portugal.

Ronaldo was dropped from the starting line-up by their previous boss Fernando Santos during the knock-out stage of the 2022 World Cup, as Portugal suffered a shock quarter-final defeat at the hands of Morocco.

But he has reestablished himself as the team’s talisman, despite Portugal also boasting the attacking talents of Bruno Fernandez, Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos.

“Cristiano is a unique player in the world, with the highest number of international caps,” Martinez said early in his reign after being appointed coach following the Qatar World Cup, where he oversaw Belgium’s disappointing group-stage exit.

“The experience he has for the dressing room is very important.

“All players have an important role. The younger ones due to their willingness to play and players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Rui Patricio and Bernardo Silva bring experience.

“It’s important to have a complete dressing room.”

In spite of his advancing years, Ronaldo will not be the oldest player in the squad.

His former Real Madrid team-mate Pepe, 41 and now playing for Porto, has also been called up because of his “important role in the dressing room”, said Martinez.

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