Dimitri Payet insists he didn’t mean to injure Cristiano Ronaldo but the Portuguese superstar’s mother and now his sister have both criticised the Frenchman for his strong challenge during the first half of Sunday’s Euro 2016 final.
Ronaldo was forced off on a stretcher in tears on the 25th minute - despite his best efforts to stay on the pitch - after the impact from Payet’s tackle injured his knee.
The three-time Ballon d’Or winner, however, returned to the touchline for extra-time and willed on his teammates as Portugal were crowned European champions for the first time.
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Ronaldo went on to lift the trophy and was clearly ecstatic with the victory, despite the fact he was injured so early in the match.
But it was a bittersweet occasion for his family members.
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Ronaldo's mum's tweet
“I cannot see my son in this way,” Ronaldo’s mother, Dolores Aveiro, tweeted at half-time of the final. “The game is about kicking the ball, not hurting the opponent."
She also added: “My son left the field but our team can win. I trust that we will be able to lift the cup.”
Ronaldo's sister's Instagram post
And a day after the final, on Monday, Katia Aveiro also criticised Payet’s challenge - labelling it a “dirty, repugnant tackle”.
"These tears shed by my brother hurt like a punch in the chest, the whole of Portugal cried with Cristiano after that dirty, repugnant tackle,” she wrote on Instagram, alongside photos of her brother in tears and then lifting the trophy, per AS.
“But God is great and I knew that Jesus was sacrificed on the cross for a better world, Cristiano cried because of the pain and because he couldn't fight with his teammates to the end for his beloved country, but like Jesus is just, the cup was lifted by the rightful winners and the dream came true. We are the champions.”
Eder - Portugal's Euro 2016 final hero
Eder was the unlikely hero for Portugal, popping up in the 109th minute with a superb winning goal.
France piled on the pressure in search of a late equaliser, hoping to send the final to penalties, but they had very little left in the tank and looked physically and mentally drained when referee Mark Clattenburg blew the full-time whistle.
Did Dimitri Payet mean to hurt Cristiano Ronaldo? Have your say by leaving a comment below.