Ronaldo retires? Cristiano’s World Cup and Chelsea ‘dream over’

Carlo Garganese
Carlo Garganese
  • Updated: 10 Jan 2023 17:44 GMT
  • 5 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench

Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup dream is over forever.

The Portuguese legend hoped that in his fifth and final World Cup - at the age of 37 - he would finally get his hands on the one major trophy that has eluded him in his glorious career.

But on Saturday Portugal fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to Morocco, who became the first Arabic and African nation in history to reach the semis of the World Cup.

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Ronaldo disappeared down the tunnel in tears.

On Sunday, he confirmed that his World Cup career was over and hinted at retirement from international football altogether.

"Winning a World Cup with Portugal was the biggest ambition of my career,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram.

“Fortunately, I won many titles on an international level, including with Portugal, and also raised the profile of the country around the world, which was a big dream of mine.

"I worked hard to realize that dream. In 5 World Cups in 16 years, always with great players and supported by millions of Portuguese, I gave everything I had. I gave it all on the field. I never turned away from a battle and never gave up on the dream.

"Unfortunately, the dream ended yesterday. I just want to say, there was a lot said, written and speculated, but my dedication to Portugal never changed for a moment. I was just another working to reach our goal. I never turned my back on my teammates and country.

"There is not much more to say now. Thank you, Portugal. Thank you, Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted...Now, let's use the time for reflection."

And the attacker won’t only be upset about this World Cup dream being over but also over his club future.

Ronaldo went into Qatar as a free agent after his contract was rescinded by Manchester United in the aftermath of his infamous Piers Morgan interview.

The World Cup was a golden opportunity for Ronaldo to show that - just two months shy of his 38th birthday - he is still able to play for a superclub.

However, there has been very little concrete interest from major clubs in Ronaldo - dating back to the summer when he first issued a transfer request.

Only Chelsea appeared like a realistic option from Europe’s very biggest teams but it is likely that Ronaldo has blown his chance of convincing them.

On the pitch Ronaldo was a major disappointment. He scored just one goal in five games and that was a penalty in the opening match versus Ghana.

Aside from that he made little impact and he was substituted in all three group games. Ronaldo was then dropped for the 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the last-16, only coming on as a late sub.

He also started from the bench in the defeat to Morocco, offering little when he was introduced in the second half in a desperate attempt to get back into the game.

And off the pitch, just as has been the case at Man Utd this season, Ronaldo also caused problems within the squad with his unprofessionalism and narcissism.

He was furious to be taken off for the third successive game during the group match versus South Korea last week. He raised his finger to his lips in order to make a “quiet” gesture, sending an apparent message to his coach Fernando Santos.

Santos was not impressed and slammed Ronaldo in his press conference before the Switzerland game. Ronaldo’s replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick.

Ronaldo was dropped against Switzerland

Ronaldo was dropped against Switzerland

Instead of being a team player, Ronaldo again embarrassed himself by only thinking of himself. He refused to celebrate with his teammates at the end of the game and instead stormed down the tunnel on his own towards the changing room.

He then allegedly refused to train with Portugal’s substitutes ahead of the Morocco clash, while his sister and girlfriend blasted the decision to drop him.

None of this was ideal preparation ahead of the quarter-final exit to the north Africans.

So not only is Ronaldo’s World Cup career over - and possibly his Portugal career - but so is his top-class club career.