Ronaldo risks 'scruffy end' to career after being dropped by Portugal, says Neville

By Sports Desk December 06, 2022 126

Cristiano Ronaldo risks bringing his career to an unsavoury end after displaying a petulant attitude in recent months, according to his former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville.

Ronaldo was dropped by Portugal ahead of their World Cup last-16 tie with Switzerland on Tuesday, having irritated coach Fernando Santos with his reaction to being substituted in a group-stage defeat to South Korea. 

Portugal did not suffer for the striker's absence as his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a brilliant hat-trick in a 6-1 rout of the Swiss, teeing up a quarter-final meeting with Morocco.

Ronaldo has courted controversy on several occasions this season, with his turbulent second spell at United being ended by mutual consent last month after he said the club had "betrayed" him in an explosive interview with Piers Morgan.

Speaking to ITV ahead of Portugal's game on Tuesday, Neville showed little sympathy for Ronaldo's situation, saying he must accept the end of his career is approaching.

"This is a manager who has had an unbelievable relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo for eight years," Neville said.

"There are a lot of fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who aren't willing to tell him the truth and I think he does need to listen to the truth.

"It's becoming a little bit of a scruffy end. The petulance, the stomping around, the sulking… it's got to stop because it doesn't reflect well on him at all.

"His long-term legacy is set, he's protected, he's one of the all-time great players, but in the short term, he's got to do a lot better because… is the Juventus manager wrong? Is the Manchester United manager wrong? And now is the Portugal manager wrong? There's three of them that now have done the same thing with him.

"You're leaving the game early like you did at United twice, stomping off the other day [against South Korea]. It's coming to that point where he's not accepting the end of his career very well."

Ronaldo – who has been strongly linked with a move to Saudi Professional League outfit Al Nassr in recent days – was introduced as a 73rd-minute substitute with Portugal already 5-1 up.

While Neville believes Ronaldo's drive to be the best served him well in the past, he says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner must now accept a more limited role.

"His single mindedness has been one of his greatest strengths over the last 10 or 15 years," Neville added.

"His determination to become one of the best in the world, to score the most goals, to break all the records, that fight with [Lionel] Messi.

"But there comes a point where you still have to think about the collective and that's your team-mates in the dressing room."

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Last modified on Tuesday, 06 December 2022 17:36
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