PORTUGAL NATIONAL TEAM
Cristiano Ronaldo called up to Roberto Martínez’s Portugal squad: what records can he still achieve?
The Al-Nassr forward continues to play a role in international football, but what is left for him to do?
Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in Roberto Martínez’s national squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. Ronaldo, now 38, moved to Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Nassr at the start of the year after his second spell at Manchester United ground to a halt. A move to a lesser-known league than that of the Premier League, especially at the ripe age Ronaldo is, usually signals a winding down of pressure and demand on a player who has little else left to win. But then again, when has Ronaldo ever talked about ‘winding down’?
The ex-Real Madrid man took Portugal to the World Cup where they were knocked out by surprise package Morocco in the quarter-finals. Ronaldo himself made headlines when then-head coach, Fernando Santos, left the forward on the bench for two crucial, consecutive knockout ties, opting for youth instead of experience. Was this a sign of the end of Ronaldo in a Portugal shirt?
Ronaldo’s international career is not over yet
Many thought that seeing CR7 on the bench was a clear sign that his time was rapidly running out in terms of his elite influence in the side, but it appears as though things have changed. Spanish coach, Roberto Martínez, who has taken over from Fernando Santos as head of the Portuguese national team, met Ronaldo before deciding to call him up to the squad. He’s going nowhere just yet.
In January, when Martínez was appointed, he was asked about Ronaldo, saying “I want to contact all 26 players who were at the last World Cup; Cristiano is a player on that list.”
What records can Ronaldo achieve with Portugal?
Let’s talk about Ronaldo in terms of personal achievements. Currently, he is the player with the joint-most international caps in the history of men’s football with 196, which is a record he shares with Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa. If Ronaldo plays against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, he will have 198.
But there’s a catch: Al-Mutawa is still going too and may play against the Philippines next Thursday, the same day Portugal go up against Liechtenstein. The battle is on.
Ronaldo also has 118 goals for Portugal: the maximum number of international goals scored in mens’s football history. He can extend that record and move even further away from Ali Daei in second place, who has 109. Someone called Lionel Messi is third, with 98.