Manchester City and Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo’s words from the sidelines inspired the side to win the Euro 2016 final against France – and has revealed what sets him apart from every other player in the world.
Writing for The Players Tribune, the 23-year-old – who missed that tournament through injury – lauded the off-the-field contribution of the Portuguese legend and claimed that his desire to continue winning has been what has kept him at the top of the footballing world for the last decade.
Ronaldo has won the last three Ballons d’Or ahead of long-term rival Lionel Messi, while he scored a breathtaking hat-trick against Spain on Friday night to earn Portugal a draw in their World Cup opener with Spain.
Bernardo wrote on his international teammate: “I think what makes him so good is that he wins one or two Ballons d’Or, and he wants more and more. He could stop by now and think okay, I’m 33 years old, I have five Ballons d’Or, and he doesn’t. He doesn’t stop. He keeps going and going.
“It’s just not normal what he and Messi have been doing over the last ten years. Every season they score 40 goals each, sometimes even more.
“To make a good season is not that difficult, but to keep the same level for like ten years – they’re always there. And it’s so difficult to keep the ambition because when you win everything like he’s already done – you could say ‘okay I’ve won everything and now I want to enjoy life’.
“But they don’t care about that, they keep winning and winning. And that’s what makes him and those players that are at the top level so special.
Opening up on Ronaldo’s impact at the last European Championship, he said: “When the game kicked off, we were so anxious. The French were sweating too – they hadn’t won a trophy since Euro 2000. But we had never won anything. Ever.
“And I still had the emotional scars from when Zidane beat us with the penalty at the 2006 World Cup. Then, in the 25th minute, just about the worst thing imaginable happened: Cristiano Ronaldo limped off injured. Of all people.
“Somehow we managed to keep the score 0–0. Going into extra time, we were all sitting there shaking in our hotel room.
“By this stage, Cristiano was shouting encouragement at the players from the touch line. Whatever he said, it must have worked, because Éder struck the winning goal in the 109th minute.”
With the toughest task at this year’s tournament now out of the way, Portugal will feel confident of getting solid results against Morocco and Iran, allowing them to progress to the second round of the competition. As well as being desperate to win the World Cup itself, Ronaldo may well have one eye on the Golden Boot award to add to his already heaving collection of trophies.
The former Benfica prodigy claimed that he was lured in by the exotic style of football played by the coach, and felt he had no choice but to link up with the ex-Barcelona coach to take his game to the next level.