October 21, 2021

‘He will keep the armband forever’ – Ronaldo to remain Portugal captain despite Serbia outburst, insists Santos

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The five-time Ballon d’Or winner left the pitch early during his country’s last World Cup qualifier, but he won’t be stripped of his leadership duties

Fernando Santos has insisted that Cristiano Ronaldo will remain Portugal captain “forever” despite his angry outburst against Serbia.

Ronaldo threw his captain’s armband to the floor and stormed down the tunnel before the end of Portugal’s 2-2 draw with Serbia on Saturday after being denied a last-minute winning goal.

The 36-year-old has been criticised for setting a bad example in the 2022 World Cup qualifier, but Santos insists he will face no punishment for his actions.

What’s been said?

Asked if Ronaldo will retain the captaincy ahead of Portugal’s next Group A fixture against Luxembourg on Tuesday, the Portugal boss told reporters: “Yes, he will keep the armband. Forever. Cristiano is a national example.

“If he had offended the manager, his team-mates or the federation in a thoughtless attitude, then we would have to address the situation. But nothing like that happened.

“It was a moment of huge frustration. And we are talking about a player who is unbeatable when it comes to his eagerness to win.

“Nobody will say now that his reaction was beautiful, but there’s no point to discuss if Cristiano should remain the captain. That’s something I want to be very clear about.”

Should Ronaldo’s goal against Serbia have stood?

Portugal blew a two-goal lead after Diogo Jota’s first-half brace against Serbia, with goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Filip Kostic levelling up proceedings early in the second period.

However, Santos’ side should still have walked away with all three points after Ronaldo raced onto a teasing Nuno Mendes crossfield pass in stoppage time and steered the ball towards the net in trademark style.

Mitrovic raced back to try and clear the danger, and although replays clearly showed that the ball had crossed the line before he hooked it away, the linesman didn’t raise his flag for a goal and the referee waved play on.

Ronaldo decided to leave the pitch after his protests fell on deaf ears, with match official Danny Makkelie later admitting that he made the wrong decision.

“As per FIFA’s policies, all I can say is that I apologised to the national coach, Fernando Santos, and to the Portuguese team for what happened,” he said.

Ronaldo’s achievements as Portugal captain

Ronaldo was named Portugal’s permanent captain by Carlos Quieroz back in 2008, and has since led his country through the most successful period in their entire history.

The Juventus superstar became Portugal’s all-time top goalscorer in 2014 before playing a starring role in their run to glory at the European Championships two years later.

Santos saw Ronaldo inspire his team to the inaugural UEFA Nation’s League title in 2019, and he will have the chance to add to his trophy haul when Portugal compete at this Euros again this summer.

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