MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal’s pre-European Championship friendly against England on Thursday as he rests from his third Champions League triumph but he insists those who doubt his talents are “jealous”.
The 31-year-old, who looked jaded in Real Madrid’s win over Atletico Madrid on Saturday even though he scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out, believes he is still “number one” and has nothing to prove.
After a sixth straight season with more than 50 goals, Ronaldo has been given extra time off and will miss Portugal’s game at Wembley on Thursday. “Come on, let me rest my legs. Now is the time to rest and enjoy this moment. I have six days to be prepared to play a good competition,” Ronaldo told reporters after Saturday’s triumph in Milan.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said Ronaldo’s performance in the Champions League final was not a concern for his campaign. The star forward has struggled with fitness problems in recent weeks but should be ready to play Estonia in a final friendly on June 8, two days before the tournament starts. “I am not worried. What interests me is that he will be with us next weekend and he really wants to help us and to win,” Santos said after Portugal’s 3-0 friendly win against Norway on Sunday.
Ronaldo said he was also not worried and that he had every reason to feel proud and happy after helping Real win their 11th European Cup. “Only the jealous don’t feel that,” he said. “But I don’t care about that. I always keep the people who love me. So this Champions League is for them, the guys who support me all the time, my fans in Portugal and around the world.”
Ronaldo highlighted that he was the Champions League’s top scorer for the fifth time with 16 goals while also reaching 50 goals altogether for the campaign once again. “But I am asking more,” he declared. “I am always in the top level. I just want to maintain. I still feel good, I still feel fresh … and I want to carry on like that.
“I feel good and I love to play for Real Madrid. I want to carry on. I have more than 4,000 minutes (playing time this season). I was the number one in the team, again, for most minutes. That means a lot to me. “It means I am still good, I still feel good physically, mentally.” However, Ronaldo did acknowledge feeling fatigued at the end of a long season.
“I have a lot of minutes in the legs. But I am still there. I am always there. I showed the team I am there for the good moments and bad moments. This is what makes me feel proud. “My performance (in the final) was maybe not the best one but who played unbelievable? No one.” Ronaldo’s performance in Madrid’s celebrations, however, was firmly in the limelight. The Portuguese took centre stage at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Sunday night. “I am so proud to wear this white shirt, it suits me and I am very happy,” he told the crowd. – AFP