Ronaldo was forced from the field with a knee injury in the first half but returned to the touchline to watch Eder’s dramatic late winner. Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t play a part on the pitch – but apparently made all the difference off it as Portugal stunned hosts France to win Euro 2016. The left the field in tears after only 24 minutes into the game after suffering a knee injury after a clash with Dimitri Payet earlier in the first half. Despite trying to carry on Ronaldo was unable to, but teammate Cedric Soares has revealed the captain stepped up at half-time to deliver a speech to inspire them on to victory.
“He gave us a lot of confidence and he said, ‘Listen people, I’m sure we will win this Euro so stay together and fight for it’.
“It was a very, very tough moment. It was a really tough moment for me and for the team,” he said of Ronaldo’s injury. “I think everybody was a little bit in shock but at half-time Cristiano had fantastic words with us. It was unbelievable.
All the team had a fantastic attitude and showed that when you fight as one you are much much stronger.
He was fantastic. His attitude was unbelievable. At half-time he helped a lot, our colleagues, he had always a lot of motivational words. All the team reacted to them so it was very, very good.”
Former Swansea striker Eder scored the only goal of the game just ten minutes from the end of extra time to secure the victory. And speaking afterwards Ronaldo revealed just how much finally achieving success with his national team meant to him.
“No one believed in us,” he said. “I had already won everything with clubs. I lacked something with the national team. Portugal have deserved this after many years of sacrifice.
“It was not the final I wanted, but I am very happy. It is a trophy for all the Portuguese, for all immigrants, all the people who believed in us, so I am very happy and very proud.”
Ronaldo kicked every ball on the sidelines, standing alongside manager Fernando Santos. And he was again in tears when Mark Clattenburg blew the final whistle and he celebrated with his team-mates.
His knee injury appeared to be forgotten as he joined the rest of the squad on the pitch – where he soon removed his shirt – as the party began.