The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to break the record for most capped player in the international football when Portugal open their UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers campaign against Liechtenstein at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon. Ahead of their opener on Thursday night, Ronaldo publicly addressed his Manchester United exit for the first time and his retirement possibility after the Qatar World Cup.
Portugal under new coach Roberto Martinez, who ended his six-year stint with Belgium after their group stage exit from the World Cup, are scheduled to play Liechtenstein at home on Thursday followed by their away game against Luxembourg on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Cristiano Ronaldo admitted Manchester United exit was a 'bad phase in his career' during a pre-match news conference. He said, "There is no time for regrets in this life. Even if we don't do so well, it's part of our life. When we are at the top of the mountain, it's hard to see what's down here and many times I couldn't. I feel like I'm better prepared now because I can see some things. I'm a better man now.
"I think that everything in life happens for a reason. I'm often grateful to go through some difficult things so I can see who is really on my side. At the tough times, you see who is on your side. It wasn't a very good phase in my life, in my career, first on a personal level and then professionally."
Ronaldo considered retirement after World Cup
The former Real Madrid star opened up on his chances of taking retirement from the international football after their disappointing quarterfinal loss at the Qatar World Cup last year. He said, "It was all in the balance after the World Cup. I reflected with my family and then we came to the conclusion that it was not time to throw in the towel. I learned a lot from it and I'm very happy to be back. The coach says he wants me in the squad. I feel that I still have a lot to give and I want to keep it going."
With Portugal's opener against Liechtenstein, Ronaldo will break the all-time record for most appearances with a national team as he is currently tied with Kuwait's Bader Al-Mutawa on 196 international caps. While asked about it, Ronaldo said, "Records are always positive. They are my motivation. I like to break records and this record is special. I'll be really proud if it happens, but I want to keep playing even more games, I don't want to stop here."
The all-time leading goal-scorer in the international football also talked about the qualifications for the European Championship next year in Germany. He said, "It's a new chapter for everyone, for the players, the staff and the country. We feel good energy. It's a breath of fresh air. I'm not saying that it's better or worse than before, but sometimes in life changes are positive. There are new ideas, a new mindset. You can notice it. You can feel the change and that is good for everyone."
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