Dimitri Payet has stressed it was never his intention to injure Cristiano Ronaldo during the Euro 2016 final.
Payet’s France were downed 1-0 in extra time by Portugal in the final on Sunday night but the West Ham forward was involved in an early moment of controversy.
The Hammers star collided with Ronaldo during the opening stages and the Real Madrid man was forced off as a result, having initially attempted to continue playing.
Payet’s challenge didn’t appear malicious but given Ronaldo’s stature within the game, and the standing ovation the three-time Ballon d’Or winner received as he was substituted on 25 minutes from both sets of fans, the West Ham forward felt the need to defend himself following France’s defeat.
“No, it was a challenge, that’s all, period,” Payet told reporters after the match. “I regained the possession and if I hurt him it was not intentional.
“It’s not in my nature to be a bad guy on the pitch. There is no question about it.”