Hat-trick hero Goncalo Ramos said that he did not expect to make Portugal's starting line-up for their World Cup last-16 win over Switzerland “even in my wildest dreams” while coach Fernando Santos said Cristiano Ronaldo’s role for the remainder of the tournament is something that has to be “defined” after dropping his captain.
Ramos, 21, announced himself on the world stage on Tuesday with a stunning treble on his full international debut as Portugal routed Switzerland 6-1 to book a quarter-final showdown with Morocco.
The Benfica striker made headlines before kick off when the teams were announced, when he was picked by Santos to lead the attack in place of Ronaldo, who was relegated to the bench.
It did not take long for the youngster to become one of the biggest stories so far at the Qatar World Cup.
“Not even in my wildest dreams I thought about being in the starting 11 for the knockout phase,” Ramos said.
Asked if Ronaldo spoke to him before the game, Ramos said the issue of him being benched did not come up among the players.
“Honestly, in our team, no one talked about it. Cristiano as our captain, as he always did, he helped us, he gave encouragement to us, not only to myself, but our teammates.”
Ramos' treble made him the first player to score a hat-trick in his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose against Saudi Arabia in 2002.
Ronaldo’s name was chanted around Lusail Stadium before he was introduced in the closing stages, having been left out of a starting line-up at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2008.
Ronaldo has been under the spotlight even more than usual at these finals after an explosive television interview days before the tournament led to him having his contract at Manchester United terminated by mutual consent after he criticised the club and said he had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag.
When asked about his role in the team for the remainder of the World Cup, Santos replied: “That is still something that has to be defined.
“I have a very close relationship with him — I always have, I have known him since he was 19 years old.
“This relationship only develops, Ronaldo and I never interpret the human aspect of that of manager and player [in relation to] what we have to do during the match. I will always consider in my role that he is an important player to have in the team.”
When asked directly if Ronaldo would play against Morocco, Santos replied bullishly: “Ronaldo will definitely [be involved], all the players on the bench can be used, if they are not in the starting line-up they can play later.
“It is important to look at the example of this player’s history, he is one of the best players in the world at playing professionally, being captain — all we have to do is think about this team collectively.”