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Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo told reporters that it’s “a gift” for him to be able to play at the 2024 UEFA European Championship in Germany at the age of 39.

“I know I don’t have many years of football left,” Ronaldo said after scoring twice in Tuesday’s 3-0 warm-up victory against Ireland. “It’s a gift to play year after year, after 35. I’m 39 and every year is about enjoying [myself]. To score for the national team is special. The national team is the love of my life, winning the Euros would be a dream.”

Euro 2024 will be Ronaldo’s record sixth appearance at the event. The two goals he scored against Ireland increased his international men’s record to 130. Back in 2016, Portugal defeated hosts France 1-0 in the final to win their first title at the tournament.

“For me, playing for the national team is a passion, a love,” Ronaldo said. “Any game is special, a European Championship is special, it will be my sixth, which is also a record. Playing in 2004, when I made my [European Championship] debut, or playing today, the feeling is always of pride and passion. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo (#7) of Portugal shoots in the international warm-up against Ireland at Estadio Municipal de Aveiro in Aveiro, Portugal, June 11, 2024. /CFP

Ronaldo played off the bench in Portugal’s final two games at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022, a decision made by coach Fernando Santos, who was fired after they were eliminated by Morocco in the quarterfinals.

Portugal’s current coach, Roberto Martinez, has described Ronaldo as “unique.”

“There is no other player in world football who can bring what Cristiano can bring to the locker room,” Martinez said last week. “It’s going to be his sixth European Championship. He is the only player to have played in five European Championships. We are talking about a unique feat in world football and this experience is important. Then we have the other players on the field and decisions to make. Cristiano is ready to help and give everything he can.”

Portugal are in Group F with the Czech Republic, Georgia and Türkiye at Euro 2024.



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