Cristiano Ronaldo insisted Monday that his explosive row with Manchester United would not impact Portugal’s chances at the World Cup as they prepare for their opening match in Qatar with Ghana.
Last week superstar Ronaldo lashed out at Premier League club United and the team’s coach Erik ten Hag in a TV interview after being relegated to a peripheral role this season.
“I have no doubt that this recent episode, that interview, and other episodes with other players that happen sometimes, can sometimes shake the player but won’t shake the team,” Ronaldo said at a press conference at the Portugal camp.
Ronaldo, who is set to start his fifth and likely final World Cup, was suspended for the Premier League club’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea after refusing to come on as a substitute against Tottenham last month.
The 37-year-old claimed during the interview that he felt “provoked” into that reaction by Ten Hag and on Monday was unrepentant about giving the interview.
“I don’t have to worry about what others think, I talk when I want to,” he said.
“Everybody in the team knows who I am, what I believe in.”
Ronaldo said frosty interaction with his team-mate for club and country Bruno Fernandes, along with images of him grabbing Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo by the head, had been being overblown by the media.
“In these final stages of competitions there’s always those type of moments,” said Ronaldo.
“We were just playing around, I have a great relationship with him. I was asking him, because his plane was late, I asked him if he came by boat.
“The same thing happened with Cancelo, he was a bit sad during training and I grabbed him by the neck and told him ‘Come on, you’ve got this’, that’s what I said. And then it became another controversy at your end.
“The whole atmosphere is excellent, it’s bulletproof and iron clad. The next player who comes here, you don’t have to ask about that, don’t talk about me, you don’t have to talk about Cristiano Ronaldo… help them out, ask them about the World Cup.”
Portugal open their Group H campaign against Ghana on Thursday before facing Uruguay and South Korea.
After missing a friendly with a stomach bug last week, Ronaldo says he is in perfect shape to play.
“I feel great, I have recovered my best shape, we’ve had good training sessions, the team and myself, I’m ready to start the World Cup in the best possible way,” Ronaldo added.
File photo combination of Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Paris Saint Germaine’s Lionel Messi
Ronaldo, who made his Portugal debut in 2003, is poised to appear at his fifth World Cup. He is the all-time top goalscorer in men’s international football with 117 strikes in 191 games.
The forward recently appeared in a Louis Vuitton advert alongside long-time rival, Argentina striker Lionel Messi, where the pair were pictured playing a game of chess.
“I would like to be the player to checkmate Messi, it happened in the chess game and in football it would be magic,” Ronaldo said with a smile.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Messi has won seven Ballon d’Or awards and many consider him to be the best player of all-time.
“Even if I win the World Cup that debate will continue,” said Ronaldo.
“Some people like me more, some people like me less, like in life, some like blondes, some like brunettes. The World Cup will always be a showcase.
“But if you tell me you won’t win any more tournaments in your career, I would still be happy, given all I have achieved.”