It has been almost ten years since Cristiano Ronaldo came close to winning the World Cup with Portugal at Germany 2006. He was just a young buckling back then, still full of more style than substance, but the 21-year-old inspired his national side to the semi-finals nonetheless.
However, Ronaldo's tournament – indeed, even his career – could have been over in the round of 16 tie against the Netherlands, in which he received one of the worst tackles in living memory from defender Khalid Boulahrouz.
Ronaldo had been tormenting defenders throughout the group stage and Boulahrouz wanted to let him know who was boss early. His high challenge after just seven minutes caught Ronaldo's thigh and should have resulted in a red card. He got off lightly with a yellow, much to the disgust of the then-Manchester United starlet.
Despite appearing in agony and with an obvious gash on his leg, Ronaldo was able to continue playing after treatment but was substituted in the 34th minute. He would, however, go on to play a crucial role – a controversial one, of course – in the next round against England.
Now, a decade down the line, Ronaldo has gone on to achieve immense things on the football pitch while it is probably the most famous thing Boulahrouz has ever done. As a result, he is still speaking about it today.
He shows little remorse for the tackle and refused to apologise for it. Remarkably, he even joked about the fact that the Real Madrid star still had remnants of the tackle on his leg 18 months down the line.
Here's what he had to say:
"I haven't spoken to Ronaldo about it since then, but I heard from Edwin van der Sar that he still had a scar one-and-a-half years later," Bouhlarouz told Helden Magazine.
"In 2012 I saw him at the Euros. Wesley Sneijder was talking to him in the hallway when we had to wait before training.
"Sneijder called me: 'Hey Boula!' and then 'Hey Cris, look your best friend!' Ronaldo's face said it all, ha. I didn't say sorry, it was water under the bridge at that moment."
After the match, Ronaldo took little solace in the fact that Maniche had just won them a place in the quarter-finals. He was only interested in commenting on the tackle.
He told reporters at the time: "Considering what happened, I don't think this official should referee any more games in the World Cup.
"It was clearly an intentional foul to get me injured. It was a really nasty tackle, but this is part of football. I am used to getting kicked now but I am unhappy about that one."
Interestingly, referee Valentin Ivanov would set a new record for most cards delivered in a single match that evening. In total, four reds and 16 yellows were shown, one of which was given to Boulahrouz in the 63rd minute after a second yellow card offence.
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