According to former Real Madrid full-back Michel Salgado, Cristiano Ronaldo will still think he will score the game-winning goal in the World Cup final.
Portugal head coach Fernando Santos began Ronaldo on the bench against Switzerland in the last-16 on Tuesday, which worked out well as his replacement, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 triumph.
It happened only two weeks after Ronaldo and Manchester United agreed to part ways, with coach Erik ten Hag moulding his squad primarily without the 37-year-old, despite him being the Premier League club’s top scorer previous season.
Salgado revealed to Stats Perform how it feels to experience a fall in relevance at the conclusion of a playing career, but added his conviction that Ronaldo will still want to prove the skeptics wrong.
“We all have to confront changes; it’s part of life, and he’s constantly under pressure,” he explained. “But he has to live with it; we all went through it; we were all very prominent in our careers at one point, and then something changed.”
“You can see the other man coming, that they can play without you, and you realize they can play and win without you.” But, clearly, Cristiano means a lot to football, and we shall miss him.
“I know him well, and he’s not going to lay down.” He will still believe today that he will score the World Cup-winning goal and that Portugal will be champions with him, and no one will be able to convince him differently.”
Salgado left Real Madrid in 2009, just after Ronaldo joined from Manchester United, and believes the five-time Ballon d’Or winner can still play a vital role for his country in Qatar, where they face Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
“I think we should leave him alone; Portugal won clearly with him, and the coach’s alternative of deploying another player instead of him worked,” he continued. “He had the mentality to find answers without Ronaldo, but if I were a manager, and I believe Fernando [Santos] knows it, you have to rely on Ronaldo if you want to win this World Cup.” That much is obvious.
“What is required is for Ronaldo to psychologically rediscover his position and stay focused on the national team no matter what.” But it’s clear that this is a watershed moment for him.”