Cristiano Ronaldo was playing every pass and winning every header from the sidelines as Portugal emerged victorious in the Euro 2016 final.
On this day six years ago, the Selecao continued their remarkable journey through the tournament in France, which had threatened to end before it even started after three consecutive draws in the group stages.
However, the newly-introduced format in which third-placed teams could still progress allowed Portugal to reach the final with dramatic knockout wins over Croatia, Poland and Wales.
Ronaldo battles to Euro 2016 glory
As we all know, Portugal eventually got the better of hosts France courtesy of a stunning extra-time winner from Eder, but their route to victory was made so much more difficult by the absence of Ronaldo.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was forced to exit arguably the biggest game of his entire career after just 25 minutes having failed to recover from an injury provoked by a strong Dimitri Payet tackle.
If anything, though, the unfortunate circumstances gave Ronaldo the perfect platform to prove himself as a true team player, making a mockery of the ‘selfish’ accusations lazily thrown in his direction.
The then Real Madrid star helped his teammates from the dugout with tactical instructions, essentially serving as an assistant coach, before getting amongst the celebrations once Portugal’s victory was confirmed.
“BACK ME NOT RONALDO! THIS IS A DISGRACE! RANT!” (Football Terrace)
Ronaldo’s emotional dressing room speech
And the most emotional part of it all came when Ronaldo addressed his victorious compatriots in the dressing room after the game, making the triumph about everybody else as part of a captain’s speech.
Ronaldo made sure to thank all the players, staff and coaches who came together to end Portugal’s long wait for a major honour, openly declaring it as one of the happiest days of his life.
For all the countless trophies that Ronaldo has lifted across his illustrious career, you only have to hear his speech to see that winning Euro 2016 was on another level. So, be sure to check out the video and transcript down below:
According to a translation by The Sun, Ronaldo said in the dressing room: “I would like to thank this man right here (Fernando Santos), first of all without him none of this would be possible.
“Second, to all the players, all the staff, everyone involved in this conquest. No one believed in Portugal, but the truth is we made it. All of us, we did it. I am very happy, this is one of the happiest days of my life.
“Forget the individual trophies, Champions League – this is one of the happiest moments of my life. I have cried three of four times already and my brother had to tell me to calm down.
“And I said: ‘Hugo, I can’t’. It’s true, from the bottom of my heart, I swear on my son’s life, I am so very, very, very happy. I could repeat this 100 times. I am so happy.
“This is the trophy that was missing. Thanks to all of you players, all the staff and you again coach. All the faith you had, honestly, it touched me.
“From the bottom of my heart I am truly happy. We deserved this. We are now in the history of Portugal. We are the first team to achieve this.”
An emotional triumph for Ronaldo
Barring what would be a career-defining moment in Portugal winning the World Cup this winter, the likelihood is that Ronaldo helping to inspire his nation to Euro 2016 glory will rank as his magnum opus in football.
And rightfully so, because for what Portugal lacked in quality compared to what Ronaldo is so often used to, they most certainly made up for with a determination and guile that simply can’t be beaten on its day.
Victory tastes that extra bit sweeter when you really have to go to the well to achieve it and Ronaldo’s dressing room speech is just one tiny insight into just how sweet it tasted for the great man himself.