Cristiano Ronaldo declared that he was “bulletproof and iron-clad” and stressed that he had no regrets about his explosive interview about Manchester United during a surprise media appearance in Qatar this morning.
Urging the press to stop asking other Portugal players about him, Ronaldo said that he was “not perfect but felt fantastic” and fully recovered from recent injury.
“The atmosphere is excellent, no problems, we are completely focused,” Ronaldo said. “You can help by not talking about me. I’m completely bullet-proof and iron-clad. If you ask other players about Cristiano Ronaldo I would be upset. If you want to ask him about the World Cup and the team, I would like you to do that.”
Ronaldo dropped a bombshell on Old Trafford with his interview last week with Piers Morgan in which he claimed that he had been “betrayed” by Manchester United executives and launched scathing criticism of the club.
During a surprise – and unadvertised – media appearance at Portugal’s training ground 30km outside Doha in Al-Shahaniyah, he admitted that he was “not perfect” but dismissed criticism of the timing of the interview. He was also adamant that it would have no impact on Portugal’s chance of winning the World Cup.
“I don’t have respect for him, because he don’t show respect for me.”
Cristiano Ronaldo says he experiences a lack of “empathy” from his Man Utd boss Erik ten [email protected] | @piersmorgan | #90MinutesWithRonaldo | #PMU pic.twitter.com/2rf3jR3N1q
— TalkTV (@TalkTV) November 17, 2022
“Timing is always timing,” he said. “From your side it is easy to look at how we can choose timings. Sometimes you write truths, sometimes you write lies. I don’t have to worry about what others think. I talk when I want to. Everybody knows who I am, what I believe in. They have known me [here] since I was 11. They will not be influenced by what people say and write about me.
The group is very bonded together. I have no doubt this recent episode. It won’t shape the team.”
Of the spotlight on him, he said: “I always have responsibility. I felt responsibility when I left to live alone in Lisbon. I am watched more than the others but I always have responsibility as a father, as a friend, it is part of my day to day life. I like to have responsibility. I have always had pressure from young. Sometimes I deal with it well, sometimes not so well. I am not perfect but I have the ability to take on the responsibilities.”
Ronaldo also dismissed suggestions of a rift with Manchester United team-mate Bruno Fernandes after footage was released of what appeared to be a frosty exchange between the two last week following the interview. “In these final stages of the competition I think that there are always those type of moments of controversy,” said Ronaldo. “We were just playing around – we have great relations. His plane was late and I asked him, ‘Did you come by boat?’ I was goofing around. Same with [Joao] Cancelo. He was sad during practice. I said, ‘wake up, come on, you’ve got this!’ Another controversy on your end.”
Ronaldo also said that it would be “a dream” to finally win the World Cup in his record-equalling fifth appearance – and that this was Portugal’s “best generation” – but that it would not affect his legacy.
“I feel great – I have recovered from my injury,” he said. “I am ready to start the World Cup in the best possible way and help my team to reach our objectives. I feel fantastic.
“The best generation of players will win the tournament. I believe this is the best generation. It is a young team with a mixture of ages, fantastic to watch.”
Asked if this World Cup would decide the debate about football’s greatest ever player, Ronaldo said: “Even if I win the World Cup that will continue. Some people like me more, some less. It’s like in life, some like blondes, some like brunettes.
“I have always had to show what I can do year after year, especially for myself, family and fans. Everyone has an opinion. I respect that.
“I would live to win this tournament. I’m ambitious but if you tell me I won’t win any more tournaments I would still be happy given all I have won. I would be happy with my achievements. In the history books all other records will be there. But obviously a World Cup on the shelf wouldn’t be bad. It would be a dream. I hope all the energy is on the right side and on our side.”
Of his recent chess photoshoot with Lionel Messi, Ronaldo said that “life is like chess” and added that he would love to finish the tournament with “check-mate” on Messi.