Ronaldo now sets sights on Euro 2016 final
Lyon (France), July 7 (IANS) Having taken Portugal into the final of the Euro 2016 football tournament with an excellent second-half performance against Wales, star forward Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to win this year's title, finally avenging the loss in the 2004 edition final.
Ronaldo earned the man of the match award in the 2-0 win over Wales in Wednesday's semi-final by scoring Portugal's first goal and coming up with an assist for Nani to score the second.
Sunday's final at the Stade de France in Paris will be the second for Portugal at the European Championships since their loss to Greece in the 2004 edition.
When reminded about that heartbreaking 0-1 loss to the disciplined, defensive Greek outfit in front of his home crowd at Lisbon, Ronaldo asserted that the Portugal players are determined not to let go of the opportunity to become champions of Europe this time round.
"This is different. I was 18, that was my first final. My debut. Now 12 years have gone by and now we are going to play another final. I am very proud of that. I have always dreamed of winning for Portugal, I hope it is our turn now," the 31-year-old said.
"I am very confident and I believe that all these boys deserve it. I deserve it, Portugal deserves it, the fans deserve it -- every single Portuguese person deserves it. They've been amazing supporters," he added.
"We've yet to win anything but it's the final. I don't think many people thought that Portugal would make it to the final, but we are there. That fills me with pride, I am very happy. Now we have to get ready for Sunday and we want to make this dream true."
Ronaldo also congratulated fellow Real Madrid star Gareth Bale for spearheading Wales' dream run in the tournament. The ongoing European Championships witnessed the first appearance at a major tournament for Wales since the 1958 World Cup where they lost 0-1 to eventual winners Brazil in the quarter-finals.
At the end of Wednesday's clash at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais Stadium here, Ronaldo and Bale embraced and exchanged words before leaving the pitch with the former appearing to console his Real Madrid teammate.
"I congratulated them on their run. They had an amazing run. They were the shining star here, the revelation team," Ronaldo told the media later.
"I wished them good luck and as for the rest I would rather not say."
The semi-final win over Wales is also special for Ronaldo as he took his total tally in the European Championships to nine goals over four editions, thus equalling the all-time record of France legend Michel Platini.
"Record-breaking is something very nice. I have broken many records before and I am still breaking records for club and country, but this all comes naturally and the crucial thing was to reach the final," he said.
"I've always dreamt of winning something for Portugal and now it's just one step away. Dreaming is free so let's keep dreaming."