Cristiano Ronaldo says Euro 2016 final win is 'for all of Portugal, for all immigrants, for all who believed in us'
Ronaldo was left to watch former Swansea striker Eder score an extra-time winner to inflict the 1-0 defeat on France and secure Portugal’s first ever major trophy, with injury forcing the Real Madrid forward off the field inside the opening 25 minutes.
From that point on, Ronaldo remained on the sidelines, living every moment of the final and appearing to morph into their manager at times, with the 31-year-old joining head coach Fernando Santos on the sidelines to guide the 11 players left on the field.
With Eder settling the match 11 minutes from a dreaded penalty shootout, Ronaldo was left to hoist the European Championship trophy high into the air, and less than two hours after he left the field in tears, Ronaldo was displaying all the emotions of man who had finally achieved his dream.
“No one believed in us,” Ronaldo said afterwards. “I had already won everything with clubs. I lacked something with the national team. Portugal have deserved this after many years of sacrifice.
Portugal v France player ratings: Who impressed in Paris?
Pulled off some big saves either side of half-time to deny France. Strong under the set-piece and exceptional at close-range. 8
Got off to a shaky start, picking up an yellow card, but improved with each passing minute. Dealt with France’s pace down the flank and worked his socks off. 7
An outstanding defensive performance from the veteran centre-back. He read the game beautifully and put in some important interceptions and crunching challenges. 9
Coped with Giroud well, keeping him under wraps for much of the game. Solid throughout. 7
Came closest for Portugal before Eder’s goal with a thunderous free-kick attempt. Did a job down on the left. 7
Sat well in front of the back four and provided a constant outlet for the defence throughout the game. 7
After impressing earlier on in the tournament, Sanches failed to live up to expectation. He flashed with the occasional moment of brilliance but it wasn’t his best game. 6
Quiet at times. He neither impressed nor made any glaring mistakes. 6
Pulled the strings for Portugal in the centre of the park with his short ball work and created a number of chances. 7
Started slow but ended the game well. Brought variation to his game, which caused a lot of trouble for the French defence, and worked hard for those balls in behind. 7
An injury in the 25th minute brought an early end to his game. N/A
Best of the bench – Eder
Super sub. Challenged well at the corners, ran hard, and scored the all-important winning goal. What a night to remember. 8
A strong performance between the sticks. Denied Portugal’s early chances with his quick reactions but caught off-guard for Portugal’s goal. 6
Battled well in the first half to keep Sanches at bay. Seemed to disappear somewhat in the second half. 6
Tracked back well, put in some important interceptions and made a series of huge challenges within his final third. Reliable throughout but ultimately unlucky. 7
Caught napping early on to gift Nani a dangerous chance on goal. Conceded too many fouls too. 6
Like Sagna, he enjoyed a strong first half and used his strength well in challenges. Had less of a say in the second 45 minutes. 6
He’s been hit-and-miss all tournament and this game summed it up. He threatened with moments of magic but often went missing. Not his day. 6
Defensively solid but just couldn’t get a grasp of the game. 6
France’s stand-out player. He brought urgency to the French game with his surging runs and was genuinely world class at times. Threatened with some dangerous shots. 8
After such an impressive tournament, he struggled to deliver tonight. He provided little threat on the ball and his set-piece game was off the mark. 5
Forced Ronaldo off with a strong early challenge but he was another player who failed to live up to expectation. 5
Offered very little going forward. A dead weight up top. 4
Best of the bench – Andre-Pierre Gignac
Claim close to settling it for France in the 93rd minute and was very lively in front of goal, creating a number of chances for himself. 7
“It was not the final I wanted, but I am very happy. It is a trophy for all the Portuguese, for all immigrants, all the people who believed in us, so I am very happy and very proud.”
Ronaldo twice attempted to come back onto the field after suffering a knee injury in a robust-yet-legal tackle by Dimitri Payet, but he was forced to concede defeat and left the pitch on a stretcher with his head in his hands and tears running down his face.
“I tried to come back. My knee was swelling up and I couldn’t,” he added. “There was too much pain.”
Luckily for Ronaldo, his teammates did the job for him to prove they are much more than a one-man team, and goalscoring hero Eder revealed afterwards that Ronaldo had told him that he would score the winning goal when he came on as a second-half substitute.
“I’ve been in football a long time. I have a lot of feelings. I felt that he was the one who was going to score,” said Ronaldo.
After becoming the first man to lead Portugal to a major trophy, head coach Santos was quick to praise Ronaldo for being the leader on the pitch before becoming the general off it.
“Our skipper put in an immense effort; he has amazing team spirit,” said Santos.
“With him being there in the locker room and on the bench it was very important to us, to reach the players and motivate them.
“Twice he tried to get back on the pitch but him being there in the dressing room and on the bench was very important for us. He believed – just like myself – that tonight was our night.”