Cristiano Ronaldo says ‘not the time’ to discuss Portugal future
Cristiano Ronaldo says it is “not the time” to discuss his international future after Portugal’s World Cup exit.
A 2-1 last-16 defeat by Uruguay on Saturday sent the European champions home from Russia.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said he hopes his captain, who will be 37 at the next World Cup in Qatar, “will stay to help the young players grow and develop”.
“This team will always fight with all their strength,” said Ronaldo.
Ronaldo scored four goals, including a hat-trick against Spain, to take Portugal through to the last 16 almost on his own, but was unable to continue that form beyond the group stages.
The Real Madrid forward had failed to find the net in his four previous knockout games and never really troubled Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal.
But he was determined to be positive after what could be his last appearance on the biggest stage of international football.
“I’m happy, and I’m leaving here content because things went pretty well in general,” he said. “This team will continue to be one of the best in the world, with quality players, a young group, united.
“We’re going out with heads held high and the Portugal team will continue to win things.
“Generally speaking, we can be proud of our efforts.”Both he and old rival Lionel Messi are now out of the competition after Argentina also headed home on Saturday following a 4-3 defeat by France in Kazan.
Barcelona forward Messi, 31, has also never scored in the World Cup knockout stages and is reportedly considering his own international future.
For now, though, Ronaldo was unwilling to discuss his next step with Portugal.
“It’s not the time to talk about the future when it comes to the players and coach,” he said.
“As the captain, I’m proud of the players, the coaching team, the staff, and all the people who worked with the group to make sure everything went well.”
The defeat by Uruguay meant Portugal repeated their last-16 exit at South Africa 2010, a performance that fell short of their fourth place at Germany 2006 and their best finish of third at England 1966.
“I’d like to congratulate Uruguay, who scored twice, but I’d also like to praise Portugal for what they did,” added Ronaldo.
“To my mind, Portugal played better than Uruguay. We had chances but that’s football for you: the team that scores more goals wins, which is why Uruguay are celebrating.”
Portugal’s 63-year-old coach Santos said his team’s talisman should continue.
“Cristiano still has a lot to give to football, and I hope he will stay to help the young players grow and develop,” he said on Saturday. “We have a team with many young players, and of course we all want him there with us.”