Football

Pepe and Ronaldo.

Pepe told Portugal teammates to "win it" for Ronaldo after final injury

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Heading into Sunday night's final of the 2016 European Championship, Portugal were seen as the underdogs by the majority of fans and pundits.

So, when their talismanic star Cristiano Ronaldo was forced out of the game with a knee injury mid-way through the first half, many expected France to go on and win the tournament on home soil.

That wasn't to be the case, however, as the remaining Portuguese rallied to overcome the odds and clinch a 1-0 win in extra time. 

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Crucial to their victory was a man of the match performance from Real Madrid defender Pepe. Speaking in the aftermath of last night's exploits, the 33-year-old has now revealed how he used the injury to his fellow Los Blancos teammate to help inspire the remaining Portugal players to victory:

"This was tough as we lost our main man and we had all our hopes on him because he can score a goal at any moment," Pepe said, via Goal.com.

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"When he couldn't go on I tried to tell our team-mates that we had to win it for him."

Although Ronaldo couldn't help Portugal clinch their first ever major international trophy with his exploits on the pitch, the Madrid star undoubtedly still had an impact on the result.

You only had to watch his animated presence on the touchline, barking out instructions to his teammates as the minutes wound down in the Stade de France, to see his influence on proceedings.

Portugal v France - Final: UEFA Euro 2016

And, now, Pepe's words have shown that, rather than leaving the Portugal players deflated, Ronaldo's injury actually helped galvanise the squad as they went in search of victory.

Rallying call

Nani may have taken over the captain's arm band when Ronaldo left the pitch, but, with his wealth of experience, it is clear that Pepe knew exactly what to say in such a key moment.

Other teams may have lay down and accepted defeat, but Pepe ensured that the loss of their key man didn't have the negative effect many onlookers predicted it would.

"The coach set us up very well, the subs came on at the right time too," he continued. "We poured our blood, sweat and tears into this.

"We've written a brilliant page in the book of Portuguese football history."

FBL-EURO-2016-MATCH51-POR-FRA-TROPHY

There have been times during Euro 2016 when speculation emerged about how strong the bond was between Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates.

In answering Pepe's rallying call, however, and celebrating as one after the final whistle, they surely proved beyond doubt their commitment to the 31-year-old.

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Topics:
Pepe
La Liga
Real Madrid
Football
Cristiano Ronaldo
Euro 2016

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