‘He deserves the respect of being able to sit down and talk’: New Portugal boss Roberto Martinez on Cristiano Ronaldo’s international future

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Having replaced Fernando Santos as the Portugal men’s team head coach, Roberto Martinez has spoken about his plans regarding Cristiano Ronaldo in the team post the 2022 World Cup exit in the quarterfinal stages.

“Football decisions have to be taken on the field of play,” Martinez said. “I’m not an office decision-making coach. So, my starting point is to get to all the players and I want to get in touch with them.”

He further added, “The list of 26 players from the World Cup is my starting point and Cristiano is a player on that list, he has been with the national team for 19 years and he deserves the respect of being able to sit down and talk. From there it is to create, in ten weeks, the best team for our matches, for the qualification for the European Championship. Today is a day of satisfaction. Tomorrow we will start working, getting to know all the players and Cristiano is one of them.”

Martinez replaced the 2016 European Championships winning manager following his six year managerial stint with the Belgium national team. The Spaniard suggested that under him ‘every player [has] an opportunity’ to land a place in the lineup.

“From here, there are 54 players in the five biggest leagues who are under 28 years old, we have Benfica and FC Porto in the Champions League,” he explained.

“In other words, my job is to give every player an opportunity and respect everyone who is already in the national team. From then on, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of them. It is a natural process, work and responsibility and of making important decisions for the team.”

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Ronaldo was in the news during Qatar 2022 as the 37-year-old was benched for the Round of 16 match against Switzerland and the quarter final against Morocco.

“He (Ronaldo) has never told me he wanted to leave our national team. It’s high time we stopped talking about this conversation… It’s high time to leave Ronaldo alone and acknowledge what he has done for Portuguese football,” the then manager Santos had said.

Following Portugal’s World Cup exit which saw Ronaldo leave the pitch in tears, the 37-year-old’s girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez had posted on her Instagram, “Today your friend and coach made the wrong decision. That friend for whom you have so many words of admiration and respect. The same one who, when putting you on the field, saw how everything changed, but it was too late. You can’t underestimate the best player in the world, its most powerful weapon. Much less should one stand up for those who don’t deserve it.”


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