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Cristiano Ronaldo’s transformation under Roberto Martinez

Ronaldo has gone from being a substitute at the World Cup with Portugal to top scorer under new coach Roberto Martínez.

Portuguese head coach Roberto Martinez and Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo

Life has changed dramatically for Cristiano Ronaldo in the space of a few months. From being a substitute with Manchester United and subsequently Portugal at the 2022 World Cup, the veteran striker is now finding the net regularly for new club Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia and is back on target for Portugal as the national side under new boss Roberto Martinez look to secure their place at next year’s Euro 2024 which will be staged in Germany.

Many saw his move to the Saudi Pro League as a step backwards, but in reality it has injected a new lease of life into the 38-year-old Madeira native who has been smiling continually during the international break. This spectacular comeback with the national team has coincided with new manager Roberto Martinez’s first games on the Portugal bench and Ronaldo has responded with a brace against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

Al Nassr's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo
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Al Nassr's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo FAYEZ NURELDINEGetty

Cristiano is now the most-capped outfield player in history (198) and has extended his lead as top scorer in national teams (122) and is just two games away from becoming the first player ever to reach 200 caps, a truly remarkable statistic. Portugal next plays in the June break and face Bosnia and Iceland.

Cristiano himself admitted that his second spell at Manchester United did not go as he had hoped but the move to Saudi Arabia so far has served him well as his Al Nassr side challenge for the title with the No. 7 idolised by local fans.

Several challenges now lie ahead: to play in the European Championship, where he would be 39, and, above all, to reach the 2026 World Cup, where he would be 41 at the time and become the first ever player to play in six World Cups.