Euro 2024: Tears in Ronaldo’s eyes, a frustrated great battles with Father Time – News

Euro 2024: Tears in Ronaldo’s eyes, a frustrated great battles with Father Time – News

Ronaldo, who missed a penalty in extra time, burst into tears after the match as he was unable to finish his interview

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Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (right) reacts after failing to score from a penalty against Slovenia. — AFP

By Reuters

Published: Tue Jul 2 2024, 11:42 am

“Time has beaten him. Time takes everybody out. It’s unbeaten,” Rocky Balboa said in the movie “Creed” and those words could easily apply to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo as he struggled to impose himself in their Euro 2024 round of 16 clash with Slovenia on Monday.

A tearful Ronaldo being embraced and comforted by his teammates after missing a penalty in extra time, which could have given Portugal a place in the quarter-finals before winning the penalty shootout, is a cathartic sight that has left fans around the world stunned.

A few minutes later, Portugal won 3-0 on penalties. Ronaldo converted the first penalty and apologized to the fans in the stands immediately after his goal. After the match, he burst into tears and could not finish his interview.

His tears showed more than just the sadness or guilt of a player feeling the burden of responsibility for nearly letting his country down. They were the tears of a frustrated player who expects greatness but is not the difference-maker he once was.

During the 2022 World Cup, Ronaldo said: “The best moment is my moment,” when he arrived in Qatar with his career in turmoil and him on the verge of leaving Manchester United to play in Saudi Arabia.

Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon D’Or winner, had arrived on a mission to prove he could still make a difference on the world stage. But he ended the tournament on the bench, making no impact as a substitute in the 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Morocco.

After that defeat, the Portuguese fans saw the shocking sight of Ronaldo running down the tunnel in tears, as desperate as the football world had ever seen him. It was something they were not used to.

But with Portugal coach Fernando Santos gone and newcomer Roberto Martinez entrusting him with the captaincy and a leadership role in a young and talented squad, Ronaldo will get another shot at glory at Euro 2024.

Despite being a model of durability for over two decades and having an outstanding career that has seen him break countless records and play for some of the world’s biggest clubs, Ronaldo has been a shadow of his former self over the past two weeks in Germany.

The Ronaldo of 2024 lacked the speed, explosion and agility that were his trademark, while leaping on balls like a tiger and scoring goals in a variety of ways that only he could. He has yet to score at this Euro 2024 through four games.

Against Slovenia, as in the previous three games, he did not shoot well and could not trouble goalkeeper Jan Oblak with his headers. At the same time, his teammates seemed to force the ball on him, disrupting Portugal’s pace and slowing them down.

At 39, Ronaldo would have become the oldest player to score at a European Championship if he had converted his penalty in extra time. However, he failed to beat the excellent Oblak and instead of relief, despair set in.

Martinez still had faith in taking the first penalty in the shoot-out and Ronaldo duly did so, helping Portugal into the race for the European Championship, where he is still chasing several records.

They face France in the quarter-finals, with the world wondering if Ronaldo’s brilliant international career is almost over. There could still be a happy ending for one of the world’s greatest ever players – only time will tell.