Cristiano Ronaldo is looking to win his first World Cup. The 2018 World Cup in Russia could be Ronaldo’s last chance as the 33-year-old will be 37 by the time the 2022 World Cup comes around. Portugal has never won the World Cup. According to Sports Illustrated, only eight countries have won the World Cup with Brazil leading the way with five, and Germany in second with four.
The World Cup is the one thing that has eluded Ronaldo despite a long list of accomplishments. According to Goal.com, Ronaldo made his World Cup debut in 2006 as Portugal made the semi-finals in Germany. Ronaldo’s first goal came against Iran on a penalty kick.
Ronaldo and Portugal lost to Spain in the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Ronaldo struggled in the 2014 World Cup as Portugal failed to advance past the group stage. Here’s how Goal.com described Ronaldo’s 2014 performance, noting the striker struggled with injuries throughout the tournament.
Portugal’s route to the 2014 World Cup involved a play-off against Sweden, in which Ronaldo scored four goals across the two legs, including a hat-trick in the second leg in Solna. Then 29, Ronaldo arrived in Brazil as the reigning Ballon d’Or holder and a Champions League winner with Madrid. He was at the top of his game, but, much to his chagrin, international tournament heart-ache continued.
Ronaldo’s fitness was a persistent concern ahead of the tournament and he was forced to sit out training on a number of occasions due to niggling knee injuries. Nevertheless, even though he was clearly not at 100 per cent, he somehow managed to play every minute of their three group stage matches.
Ronaldo admits that winning a World Cup would add to a storied career.
“Winning the World Cup is the best thing you can possibly achieve in your career because you represent your country and it is so difficult to win,” Ronaldo explained to The Sun (via Express). “So if we could do it, then for me it would be the maximum. To give a World Cup to Portugal would be the greatest dream of my life and mean that I would have won everything a player can aspire to win. Some people may think if I win the World Cup it would be time to retire, but I am ambitious and I still have a lot to give to this sport.”
According to OddsShark, Portugal is eighth in the odds to win the World Cup at +2200. Ronaldo has led Real Madrid to four Champions League titles in five years. He has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or five times. The one thing that has alluded him is a World Cup trophy.
As Portugal attempts to win its first World Cup, rumors continue to swirl around Ronaldo’s status at Real Madrid. Transfer rumors have heated up connecting Ronaldo with a return to Manchester United. Part of the talk stems from Ronaldo’s post-match press conference after the Champions League final where he spoke about Real Madrid in the past tense. The rumors are likely to continue no matter how Portugal performs in the World Cup.