Although defending champions Portugal bowed out of Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage, it was still a tournament to remember for Cristiano Ronaldo. There’s a temptation to label the Juventus man as a veteran, but the fact that he still scores so many goals and is still so integral to the success of the Portuguese national team indicates that he is still someone at the top of his game.
Indeed, at the time of writing Ronaldo leads the Euro 2020 top scorers list with the five goals he notched in the group stage. With that in mind, there’s a sense that the suggestions that this could be the last time we see him at a major tournament could well be wide of the mark. Ronaldo is still in outstanding physical condition, and while the goals are still flowing and he is still enjoying his football, why shouldn’t he keep on playing for Portugal?
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is only 17 months away and barring a severe decline in either form or fitness, it’s hard to imagine that Ronaldo won’t still be notching plenty of goals at club level by the time the tournament comes around. His presence in the Portugal team increases their status and reputation — the continued excellence of Ronaldo was the reason why Portugal couldn’t be discounted in odds for Euro 2021.
Whether he continues to don the red and green will undoubtedly come down to Ronaldo himself. As long as he is willing and able to perform at a high level for Portugal, he will most likely want to continue — to carry on breaking records and outdoing himself at the international level. The World Cup also stands as one of the few honours Ronaldo is missing from his CV. You can bet that he would love one last crack at bringing home the big one.
The fact that he has won both the European Championship and UEFA Nations League with Portugal means that Ronaldo can be proud of his international achievements, whatever happens next. But he has never been one to lack ambition, and as long as he is fit and able, it’s hard to imagine him turning down another opportunity to lead Portugal to World Cup glory.
This summer, he became the first player to score at five separate European Championships, and he could achieve the same feat if he plays and scores in the 2022 World Cup. A total of 10 major international tournaments would be a remarkable total and would rubber-stamp Ronaldo’s status as one of football’s most legendary international players — something that gets glossed over slightly by his supreme club form over the years.
There is no doubt that Ronaldo has the quality to keep ongoing. He has had to adapt his game, of course. He is no longer the tricky winger who arrived at Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon with a spring in his step, rather he is a mature, fully sculpted center-forward who has a unique knack for sniffing out opportunities and finishing them with deadly force and accuracy. Only he will know if the 2022 World Cup is a step too far for him, but it would be no surprise to see Ronaldo leading his country out in Qatar next November. In fact, you wouldn’t discount seeing him in Germany at Euro 2024 either.