Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the Euro 2016 final from afar. Just ask his Portugal teammates.
Following Portugal’s 1-0 win over France on Sunday in the Euro 2016 final, Eder and Cedric revealed the integral role Ronaldo played in the victory, despite having exited the game due to a left knee injury after just 25 minutes.
Ronaldo returned to public view from the dressing room for the extra-time period and famously support his teammates to victory from the sideline and technical area. But we now know the impact Ronaldo had on his teammates before he appeared publicly.
Cedric, Portugal’s right fullback, said Ronaldo lifted his “shocked” teammates at halftime by delivering an inspirational speech, according to ESPN’s Miguel Delaney.
“It was a very tough moment,” Cedric said. “I remember, for me and the team, everybody was a little bit in shock I think.
“In half-time, Cristiano had fantastic words for us. He gave us a lot of confidence and said ‘listen people, I’m sure we will win, so stay together and fight for it.’
“It was really unbelievable. I think all the team had a fantastic attitude. And we showed tonight when you fight as one you are much much stronger.”
Ronaldo left the field in tears following his injury, but Cedric said the Portugal captain had overcome his personal disappointment by the time his teammates returned to the locker room.
“No, he was fantastic,” Cedric said when asked if Ronaldo was distraught about the injury. “His attitude was unbelievable. Always he helped a lot our teammates, he always had a lot of motivational words and all the team of course reacted to them, so it was very good.”
Long before Eder scored the the game-winning goal, Ronaldo filled the Portugal substitute striker with confidence by predicting he would become a hero.
“(Ronaldo) told me I would score the winning goal for the team,” Eder told Portuguese newpaper O Jogo, according to Sky Sports. “He gave me this strength, this energy and it was vital.
After Ronaldo suffered the injury, few knew what kind of reaction to expect from him. But the response of his teammates was telling, as they rose to the challenge of playing without their captain and best player in a major tournament for the first time in over ten years.
Call it the “Ronaldo effect.” It’s a real thing.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/UEFA.tv