Ronaldo on Euro 2024, reaching 850 goals, playing at World Cup 2026, Messi rivalry, Portuguese club football polemics, and playing in Saudi Arabia

Cristiano Ronaldo was the chosen player at yesterday’s daily Seleção press conference as Roberto Martínez prepares his team for the Euro 2024 double header against Slovakia and Luxembourg.

A relaxed and cheerful Portugal captain said the aim was to win the two games to “practically seal qualification.”

Ronaldo went on to offer his opinion on an array of topics ranging from his rivalry with Messi, reaching the 850-goal mark, his chances of playing at World Cup 2026, the recent controversies in Portuguese club football, and the ascension of the Saudi league. 

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On Euro 2024 matches

“We really want to win these two games. We know if we do, we’re practically qualified. They’ll be two tough matches, especially against Slovakia. Away games are normally harder. But the team is in good shape and confident. We’ll try and win and then do the same at home against Luxembourg.”


On reaching 850 goals

“850 goals is a historic landmark. For me it’s a proud moment to reach these numbers that I never thought I would. But I want more. While I’m still playing I have to set the bar high.”


On playing at the 2026 World Cup

“Today I’ve changed the way I look at things a bit. Things have happened both on a personal and professional level that have made me think that you have to live life for the moment. I no longer think long-term. I prefer to think about the short term. Anything could happen. Enjoy the moment. I want to go to the Euro and play a good Euro, which is more or less a short-term goal. After that, we’ll see.”


On the Messi rivalry

“This rivalry is over, but it was a good rivalry. Whoever likes Cristiano does not have to hate Messi and vice-versa. They’re two very good players who changed the history of football, but each one is following their own path. He’s doing very well, from what I’ve seen, and I am too. The legacy is continuing. We shared the same stage for 15 years. I wouldn’t say we are friends, I’ve never gone out to dinner with him, but there is respect as professional colleagues.”


On controversies in Portuguese club football

“I’d like the Portuguese league to be a top league, but it isn’t. Everyone has an opinion, there are 40 TV channels debating everything, and that’s bad. There are controversies in all leagues, but in Portugal there are many more. I opened a Portuguese sports paper a while ago and the first three articles was news outside of the football pitch. It makes us think that at the end of the day what’s more important is a piece of bad news. I’m Portuguese and that concerns me. I’d like Portugal to be in the top 4 or 5 leagues, but like that it will be impossible.”


On playing in Saudi Arabia

“Everyone thought I was crazy [going to Saudi Arabia], but it seems the crazy guy isn’t that crazy after all, as now it’s become normal to play in the Arab league. As an Al Nassr player, I knew this would happen. It’s a privilege to change a culture and of country and its football, to have big stars playing there. I was a pioneer and that makes me proud. I want it to continue to evolve to become a top league.”

By Tom Kundert