Cristiano Ronaldo set to play in 11th international tournament after 39-year-old makes Portugal’s Euro 2024 squad

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to play in his 11th international tournament for Portugal later this year, after the 39-year-old was named in his nation’s squad for Euro 2024.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner plays outside of Europe’s main top-five leagues, currently plying his trade for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr, but Portugal manager Roberto Martinez said the forward’s experience and eye for goal would be an important asset for the team.

“Cristiano? It’s better to talk about the data. He’s a player who’s scored 42 goals in 41 games for his club,” Martinez told reporters, per Reuters, when explaining the decision to pick Ronaldo.

“That shows his continuity and physical ability to always be fit, as well as the quality he has in front of goal, which we really like and need.”

The veteran striker made his first tournament appearance 20 years ago at Euro 2004, when host Portugal was beaten by Greece in the final. He went on to lead Portugal to victory at Euro 2016, his only major trophy at international level, though he had to be substituted in the first half of the final after picking up an injury.

Ronaldo was also part of Portugal’s UEFA Nations League triumph in 2019.

Ronaldo has played 206 times for his country – he’s the most capped player in men’s international soccer – and has scored a record 128 goals, 10 of which came during the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

It seemed as though Ronaldo might have made his last appearance in a major international tournament at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The striker was dropped from the starting lineup during the group stages by then manager Fernando Santos, as Portugal looked to be planning for life after Ronaldo.

But after a change of management and some good form for Al-Nassr, the forward will have another chance to add to his legacy in what will be a record-extending sixth European Championship appearance. Ronaldo has also appeared at five World Cups.

He will also have the chance to become the oldest man to play and score at a European Championships, according to UEFA. He is already the competition’s record goalscorer, with 14 goals in the finals.

Ronaldo made his first tournament appearance for Portugal at Euro 2004. - Darren Walsh/Action Images/Reuters
Ronaldo made his first tournament appearance for Portugal at Euro 2004. - Darren Walsh/Action Images/Reuters

However, Ronaldo will not be the oldest player in the Portugal squad. That title belongs to 41-year-old defender Pepe, who has impressed for Porto this season.

The veteran defender, who also helped his country win the European Championship in 2016, has made 38 club appearances this year, producing some astounding performances in Porto’s run to the Champions League round of 16.

Pepe, who has made 136 appearances for Portugal, also helped Porto finish third in the league and will play Sporting Lisbon in the Taça de Portugal final on May 26.

“Pepe’s role in the dressing room is important, the way he represents the national team shirt,” Martinez told reporters.

“His communication, his positioning mean that, when he’s fit, he’s a very important player.”

Portugal will play Turkey, Georgia and Czech Republic in Group F at Euro 2024. It’s first game will be against Czech Republic on June 18.

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