Portugal stars ‘don’t trust’ Cristiano Ronaldo amid claim he’s ‘not’ the same player ‘anymore’

Lewis Oldham
Ronaldo Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been told that he doesn’t “know when the time is right to call it a day” after Portugal struggled in their Euro 2024 opener.

The Al Nassr forward started against the Czech Republic on Tuesday night as Portugal had their first group game of Euro 2024.

“They never quite know when the time is right to call it a day and I think he’s in that category.”

Heading into the tournament, Portugal was earmarked as one of the favourites to advance to the final and win the competition, with England, France and Germany potentially among their main rivals.

Roberto Martinez’s side did not get off to the best of starts on Tuesday evening, though. They had to battle back from behind to beat the Czech Republic.

Lukas Provod broke the deadlock but an own goal by Robin Hranac brought the game level moments later. Diogo Jota had a goal disallowed for offside late on before super-sub Chico Conceicao scored a stoppage-time winner to make it 2-1.

39-year-old Ronaldo has 58 goals in his 64 appearances for Al Nassr but was unable to make an impact in Portugal’s tournament opener.

Presenter Richard Keys has argued that it’s “not Ronaldo anymore” and the veteran forward should consider retiring.

“We all know that he has been one of the best of his generation. There is only one other to match, or maybe better than what he was capable of doing, It’s not Ronaldo anymore,” Keys said.

“It is a long, long way from being Ronaldo anymore. There are times when I’ve been watching him and thought – he could go on in this tournament to prove me entirely wrong – but running is not his friend.

“The other thing that bothers me is, as they come into the tournament, everything’s fine. The minute he comes off or doesn’t start, big trouble. They’re like boxers, again players. They never quite know when the time is right to call it a day and I think he’s in that category.”

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Stuart Pearce meanwhile has boldly claimed that Portugal’s players “don’t trust Ronaldo”.

“This might sound ridiculous, but [maybe] they don’t trust Ronaldo enough to keep supplying him with the ball, that type of thing. There’s been times in the games where he’s shown to feet and they’ve not popped the ball into his feet,” Pearce said.

“There was one with Bernardo Silva, it was one of these rogue passes [by Czech Republic] that got cut out. Bernardo Silva had it in the centre circle, Ronaldo peeled off in an inside-right position.

“I’m thinking, ‘If this was ten years ago, you slide it in front of him and you know full well he’s going to get there and score.’ He [Silva] denied the pass, and I found that quite strange.”