Cristiano Ronaldo has appeared to acknowledge that his dream of winning the World Cup with Portugal is over after the team's elimination from football's showpiece tournament in Qatar. Portugal were denied a berth in the semifinals after they suffered a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Morocco in Doha on Saturday.
"Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career," Ronaldo said in an Instagram post on Sunday. "Fortunately, I won many titles of international dimension, including for Portugal, but putting the name of our country on the highest level in the world was my biggest dream."
Ronaldo started on the bench for the second consecutive match at Al Thumama stadium after scoring just once -- a penalty against Ghana -- in four outings at this World Cup. The defeat to Morocco was almost certainly the 37-year-old's last appearance in football's showpiece tournament.
The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus star cut a distraught figure as he walked off the pitch in tears immediately after the final whistle. Ronaldo, who has been capped 195 times and scored a record 118 goals for his country, will be 41 when the next World Cup begins in the United States, Canada and Mexico, reports Xinhua.
"I fought for it. I fought hard for this dream," said Ronaldo, who is currently without a club after leaving Manchester United by mutual consent in November. "I've scored in five World Cups over 16 years, always alongside great players and supported by millions of Portuguese people, I gave my all.
I left everything on the pitch. I never turned my back on the fight and I never gave up on that dream. "Unfortunately, yesterday the dream ended. I just want everyone to know that much has been said, much has been written, much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has not changed for an instant.
I was always one more person fighting for everyone's goal and I would never turn my back on my teammates and my country. "For now, there's not much more to say. Thank you, Portugal. Thank you, Qatar.
The dream was beautiful while it lasted...Now, I hope that time can offer the best advice and allow everyone to draw their own conclusions."