Cristiano Ronaldo coy on Portugal future after 'beautiful World Cup dream' ends

Portugal captain left the Al Thumama Stadium pitch in tears after the quarter-final defeat to Morocco

Cristiano Ronaldo leaves the field after Portugal's defeat to Morocco in the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals. Getty
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Cristiano Ronaldo has hinted he could call time on his international career after his World Cup "dream ended" with Portugal's defeat to Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Ronaldo, 37, left the Al Thumama Stadium pitch in tears following his side's defeat, which brought an end to his fifth World Cup campaign and where he made history as the only player to score at five tournaments.

Ronaldo, who has won the European Championships and Nations League with Portugal, stayed in Qatar as many of the squad returned home and landed in Lisbon on Sunday afternoon.

"Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career," Ronaldo wrote on Instagram on Sunday. Fortunately I won many international titles, including for Portugal, but putting our country's name on the biggest trophy in the world was my biggest dream. I fought hard for this dream.

"In the five appearances I scored in World Cups over 16 years, always playing alongside great players and supported by millions of Portuguese, I gave my all. Left it all out on the field. I never turned away from the fight and I never gave up on that dream. Sadly yesterday the dream ended."

Ronaldo started all three of Portugal's group games but was dropped to the bench for the last-16 tie against Switzerland, a decision from coach Fernando Santos which was vindicated by Ronaldo's replacement, Goncalo Ramos, scoring a hat-trick in the 6-1 win.

He was again omitted from the starting line-up against Morocco but entered the action early in the second half and was unable to make much of an impact as Portugal became the latest European team, after Belgium and Spain, to be defeated by the North Africans.

According to the Portuguese media, Ronaldo threatened to leave the squad after he was dropped from the starting line-up, but that was denied by Santos, who will soon meet with the Portuguese Football Association to discuss his own future.

"I just want you all to know that much has been said, much has been written, much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has not changed not for a moment," Ronaldo's post continued.

Morocco v Portugal player ratings

"I was always one fighting for the objective and I would never turn my back on my colleagues and my country."

Ronaldo's international future is not the only decision he has to mull over but his next club destination, too. The former Real Madrid and Juventus star had his contract terminated by Manchester United at the start of the World Cup following an explosive TV interview in which he criticised the club's owners and said he had "no respect" for manager Erik ten Hag.

Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr have reportedly made a lucrative offer to Ronaldo that would make him the highest-paid player in the world, while interest from Europe's top clubs currently appears to be minimal.

"Thank you Portugal. Thank you Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted," Ronaldo concluded at the end of his post. "Now, we have to let time be a good advisor and allow everyone to draw their own conclusions."

Updated: December 12, 2022, 6:13 AM