Cristiano Ronaldo emerged from the dressing room to support his Portugal teammates after an injury cut short his Euro 2016 final.
The Real Madrid star reportedly suffered a partially torn ACL during a collision with Dimitri Payet and was forced off in the 25th minute.
Though Portugal ended up beating France in the final, it was to the tournament’s detriment that one of the best players in football history missed the majority of the final.
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Although, the fact that Ronaldo reappeared to encourage his teammates, and to tell Eder that he would score the winner, was evidence of a fine leader.
The 31-year-old was replaced by Ricardo Quaresma and the Besiktas forward had nothing but praise for his long-time friend after the game.
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Ronaldo and Quaresma were teammates at Sporting Lisbon before they became recognised names and their friendship has blossomed during their time together for the national team.
So close are the pair that Quaresma declared Ronaldo “the only person I admire in football.”
Fourth Ballon d'Or on the way (probably)
The former Manchester United player is the heavy favourite to win a fourth Ballon d’Or trophy at next year’s ceremony, his performances in France certainly helping his case.
Ronaldo’s three goals and three assists helped Portugal to their first international trophy. The question mark that hangs over Lionel Messi’s legacy no longer applies to his biggest rival.
But Quaresma was more impressed with the manner in which Ronaldo handled his disappointing injury than anything else he managed to do in France.
“Even with the injury [Ronaldo] never stopped, he always supported the team and that's why I say, not just as a friend, that he is the only person I admire in football," Quaresma told O Jogo, per Goal.
"I admire the strength he has."
Quaresma was spared the heartache that Ronaldo suffered at Euro 2004; surgery on a foot injury forced him to miss the squad.
But the pair now have a European Championship winners medal, erasing the pain of that defeat to Greece 12 years ago.
Before the success in France, the expectation on Ronaldo to win an international tournament from the Portuguese public wasn’t as palpable as Argentina’s desire to see Messi win a World Cup or Copa America, yet it was still tangible.
But following the 1-0 win over France, Quaresma wants Portugal to offer Ronaldo complete adulation.
“We have a great captain, it is an honour to play alongside him and have him in the national team and all Portuguese people should be proud to have Cristiano,” the former Barcelona winger continued.
"[His critics] speak of him and do not know him as a person. He is a great person, a great captain and he deserves everything he has achieved in football. He always has confidence and is positive and that's what he gave us."
Will Cristiano Ronaldo win the 2016 Ballon d'Or? Let us know in the comments section below!
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