world cup | Fernando Santos asks the media: “Leave Cristiano Ronaldo alone”

(Doha) After several days of controversy over Cristiano Ronaldo, the substitute at the start of the World Cup round of 16 against Switzerland, Portuguese national team coach Fernando Santos said, on Friday, that it was “time” for the media to leave the “calm” star.

“It’s time for Cristiano Ronaldo to be left alone in the name of what he’s done for Portuguese football,” the technician said in a press conference ahead of the quarter-final against Morocco.

And before that, he explained at length how he announced to “CR7” that he would not take office, while the Portuguese press wrote that the latter threatened to leave the group for this reason.

“He never told me he wanted to leave the national team and I think it’s time to stop arguing,” Santos said.

“Yeah, we had a chat (about his surrogate status, editor’s note) and it was too bad not to have a chat. […] He’s our captain, we know what he represents for Portuguese football, for the Portuguese, and for the team, I had to talk to him,” he explained.

The discussion took place in the coach’s office after lunch on match day.

“I explained to him why he wasn’t playing. I explained it to him so he wouldn’t be surprised […] I told him he would have an important role, but he wouldn’t start and that I would keep him for the second half.

“Cristiano, obviously, wasn’t very happy, because he always started, and asked me if I thought it was a good idea. But it was a normal conversation, where I explained my point to him and he accepted. It was a frank and normal discussion, insisted Santos.

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He added, “The best proof of what I am telling you is what he did during the match: prepare with the others, celebrate the goals with the others, invite his partners to greet the spectators after the match.”

Santos didn’t really give any indication of the star’s potential return to the starting line-up against Morocco, although he did stress that the challenge would be very different from the one against Switzerland.

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