Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal squad flew home on Sunday as the Real Madrid man refused to rule out international retirement after Portugal’s elimination from the World Cup.
CR7’s side were dumped out of the competition by Uruguay, who won their Round of 16 meeting 2-1.
An Edinson Cavani double sandwiched a Pepe header to see the South Americans progress and Ronaldo’s hopes of winning the World Cup in Russia disappear.
Many speculated that Russia was Ronaldo’s last chance of lifting the famous gold trophy with the Real Madrid striker now 33. By the time of the next World Cup in Qatar he will be 37.
When questioned about it after last night’s defeat, Ronaldo refused to confirm his plans for the future.
He said: “It’s not the right time to talk about my future, or about the coach or any of the players.”
He continued: “I’m absolutely sure this team will continue to be one of the the best in the world. We have a team of players who are ambitious.
“Portugal are going to carry on winning things and making the people of Portugal proud.”
Ronaldo believed his team were the better side in the Round of 16 meeting with Uruguay, something backed up by the shot count which was 20-5 in Portugal’s favour.
“We played better than Uruguay but it’s those who score more goals who win.
“We wanted to win, we fought well, but Uruguay should be congratulated.
“Overall we leave with our heads held high. I’m very proud to represent the Portugal national team. This is a fantastic group to work with. I’m proud of my teammates of the technical staff.
“It’s not a great outcome for us tonight but we fought well. I’ve enjoyed the competition. It is a really well-run tournament and the organisation has been really positive.”
Portugal coach Fernando Santos has backed Ronaldo to continue playing for the national team, replying when asked if he would be at the European Championships in 2020 and the World Cup in 2022: “Certainly, yes. Cristiano has a lot to give. A lot to give to football.
“We start the next tournament in September and we hope he will be with us to help the young ones grow. It’s important to have a captain there and he’s always there for us.”
Despite his age – at which many would be thinking about putting their feet up – Ronaldo has stated his ambition to continue playing until he is in his 40s.
He said back in May: “Right now I have a biological age of 23. I’ve still got a long time left, I can keep playing until I’m 41. I’m feeling good, happy, I can’t complain.”
If he’s right about that, he could be playing at not just the next World Cup but the 2026 World Cup as well.
The Portugal squad flew home on Sunday from Moscow’s Zhukovsky International Airport, a stark change from the last time they arrived back in Iberia after a major tournament.
Two years ago the squad were given a hero’s welcome as they touched down from their victorious Euro 2016 campaign in France.
But the mood was far more sombre as they boarded for home in Russia.
The Portuguese FA will likely want an answer from Ronaldo in the coming weeks, with their next game on September 6, a friendly at home against Croatia.