The Portugal star hoisted the silver trophy and screamed “Vamos” – “Let’s go” – as he got his hands on an elusive first major title for his national team at the age of 31.
First there had been anguish. Ronaldo had a tearful night as first he was injured by a strong tackle by France’s Dimitri Payet, forcing him to leave the pitch in the 25th minute of the game when he was unable to continue.
He returned to the field to rally his teammates for 30 minutes of extra time when it was 0-0 after 90 minutes at the Stade de France.
Defying the pain of a heavily bandaged left knee, Ronaldo took the role of assistant to coach Fernando Santos and leaped around the technical area urging on his players.
When substitute forward Eder fired a fired low shot to score in the 109th minute, Ronaldo cried again and held his hands up in a prayer gesture as he walked away for a moment alone before joining the jumping huddle of celebrating Portugal players and staff.
A full 12 years after a teenaged Ronaldo cried on the field in Lisbon after the Euro 2004 host Portuguese team lost 1-0 to Greece, his emotions were on show again on the big stage.
This time, he left his teammates to pull off a similar upset against a favoured host nation, France, this morning, Australian time. And they did.
Defender Pepe says Ronaldo was a source of inspiration for Portugal in the 1-0 extra-time defeat of France in the Euro 2016 final.
“It was difficult, we lost our main man,” he said.
“The man who can score at any moment. But God has helped us, we were fighters on the pitch. We swore to win for him and we have won for him.
“We have suffered a lot, it was an intense game, we knew that it would be hard. As I said before the game, we have to work a lot and be humble. We represent a whole country, it is a country of immigrants … We represent everyone. They have taught us to make sacrifices.”
France nearly snatched a win in stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes when Andre-Pierre Gignac’s shot rebounded off the post while Raphael Guerreiro hit the crossbar with a free kick for Portugal in extra-time.
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