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29 Mar, 2022 11:56

Ronaldo makes ‘boss’ claim before crunch World Cup clash

Cristiano Ronaldo has angrily rejected suggestions that he might call time on his international career
Ronaldo makes ‘boss’ claim before crunch World Cup clash

Portuguese ace Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, says that he won't be pushed into making a statement about his international future and insists that he is the “boss” of his own career amid speculation that this year's World Cup in Qatar will be his final appearance on the global international stage.

Portugal face a do-or-die qualification match with North Macedonia on Tuesday evening, a fixture which has prompted speculation that the game could be Ronaldo's international swansong if the North Macedonians are able to repeat their surprise playoff semifinal win against European champions Italy last week. 

And faced with a barrage of questions about when he might decide to call time on his international career, Ronaldo fired back at the media to say that that is a decision for him to make – and it won't be influenced by media gossip.

“I’m beginning to see that many of you ask the same question,” a tetchy Ronaldo said.

“Who will decide my future is me, nobody else. If I feel like playing more games, if I don’t feel like I don’t play. I’m the boss, period.

“I live one day at a time, tomorrow only God knows. I enjoy football and I still feel useful both at the club and at the national team. I will decide when I want, not when they understand fans, family or journalists. I have always decided my life and that is what I will continue to do.”

Ronaldo, who captains the Portuguese national team, has had an exemplary international career.

Last year he became the all-time record goalscorer in men's international football when he scored two late headed goals in a 2-1 home win against the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup qualification campaign.

His record currently stands at 115 goals in 185 appearances for his country.

And ahead of what would, on the surface at least, appear to be Ronaldo's final opportunity to win a World Cup, the Manchester United star has called on Portuguese fans to step up ahead of the match with North Macedonia.

“I urge the fans – I want hell breaking loose at Dragao [Stadium],” Ronaldo said.

“I went to bed last night thinking that I want the stadium to shut down the music for our national anthem and let the fans sing it acapella to show our passion, our strength and union around the objective of reaching the World Cup.

“For us, this game is a matter of life and death. There is a responsibility to win this game. For us, also a game of our lives. [North Macedonia] have surprised [opponents] in many games but I believe they will not surprise us.”

Ronaldo has also been linked with an exit from Manchester United this summer if, as expected, the club fail to qualify for the Champions League. Both Sporting Lisbon, where Ronaldo began his career, and Porto are said to have registered an interest in bringing him back to play in his home country.

Elsewhere in World Cup qualification, Poland will take on Sweden at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow – with Poland being granted a bye into the playoff final after original semifinal opponents Russia were removed from the match by UEFA due to the military operation in Ukraine.