Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo seemed bemused when his international future was brought up on the eve of Portugal’s crunch World Cup play-off final against North Macedonia.
The prolific marksman is fully focused on helping his country avoid the same fate as European champions Italy by overcoming the outsiders in order to clinch a place at the finals in Qatar, later this year.
After a 3-1 win over Turkey last week, Tuesday night’s clash at the Estadio do Dragao provides the opportunity for Ronaldo to reach his fifth World Cup on a personal level, and add to his seven goals on the biggest stage.
Yet the 37-year-old is keen to stress it is the team, and his country, that matters most and he was irked by questions alluding to his international retirement if things do not go Portugal’s way when they face North Macedonia, or what happens when the finals are over.
“I’m already beginning to see the same question many times,” our no.7 replied at a press conference. “I am the one who will decide my future, nobody else. If I feel like playing more, I’ll play. If not, I don’t play. I’m in charge, period.
“There is always pressure. We are all prepared. We really wanted to play in this final. If North Macedonia are here, it is because they deserve to be.
“No-one is more important than anyone else,” he asserted, although he delighted in welcoming veteran defender Pepe back into the fold. “We really want to take Portugal to the World Cup.”
Ronaldo’s record is an incredible 115 goals in 185 games for his country.
Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes will also hope to start in Tuesday’s 19:45 BST kick-off as Portugal look to book a place in Friday afternoon’s group-stage draw.