Oeiras (Portugal): Juventus star and Portuguese national football hero Cristiano Ronaldo returned home to wear the western Iberian nation’s team jersey for the first time since the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Although it was Portugal and Juventus’ defender Joao Cancelo, not Ronaldo, who attended the press conference held prior to the training on Tuesday, reports Efe news. “Having a player like him on the team makes everything easier,” Cancelo said, discussing Ronaldo’s play in Italy’s Serie A Juve, where Cancelo also plays.
The media asked Cancelo about Ronaldo’s return to the national stage, wanting to know why it took Ronaldo so long before being capped again. While Cancelo did not directly answer the press’ questions on this point, he did reply that, “Cristiano adds quality to any team he goes to, we are privileged.”
Ronaldo is Portugal’s favourite son; he is so popular that most Portuguese bars and restaurants have two TV screens on during league play; one screen shows every Juventus match and the other screen shows the other matches from the Portuguese league.
The Portugal national team, which started its preparation Monday at the national federation’s sports city in Oeiras (located in the outskirts of nation’s capital Lisbon), is set to host Ukraine and Serbia in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers on March 22 and 25, respectively.
The 2016-Euro-Champion Portugal drew to the B-Group of the Euro qualifiers, which also includes Lithuania and Luxembourg, along with Ukraine and Serbia. During Tuesday’s practice, all cameras followed Ronaldo. The team coach, Fernando Santos, agreed to give the famed striker a rest following allegations that hit the press in 2018 that Ronaldo had raped a woman in the US, in 2009.
Although the Portuguese team could play other strikers besides Ronaldo, having the star set to play gives a moral boost to the squad and more optimism to the fans who believe that CR7 (Ronaldo’s acronyms) always wins. Thought by many to be the best player in the world and one of most-gifted scorers of all time, Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards and is the first player ever to win four European Golden Shoes.