Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Portuguese squad what has been described as an “unbelievable” half-time speech, telling his teammates he was “sure” they would beat France in their 1-0 Euro 2016 final victory despite having to go off injured after 25 minutes, Cedric Soares has revealed.
The full-back also said that Portugal were “in shock” when their star captain had to be substituted but that, far from being dejected, a “fantastic” Ronaldo helped motivate the players.
“It was a very tough moment,” Soares said. “I remember, for me and the team, everybody was a little bit in shock I think.
“In half-time, Cristiano had fantastic words for us. He gave us a lot of confidence and said ‘listen people, I’m sure we will win, so stay together and fight for it.’
“It was really unbelievable. I think all the team had a fantastic attitude. And we showed tonight when you fight as one you are much much stronger.”
Asked whether Ronaldo was downbeat after having to go off, Soares said: “No, he was fantastic. His attitude was unbelievable. Always he helped a lot our teammates, he always had a lot of motivational words and all the team of course reacted to them, so it was very good.”
Ronaldo spent much of the second half and extra-time acting as an effective assistant manager, giving instructions from the bench, and Soares praised this as beneficial to the players.
“Yes, he had fantastic words for each player in each moment of the game … I’m really really happy to be part of this group and be champion.”
Portugal won the game thanks to Eder’s 109th-minute long-range strike. After the game, as Soares said, Ronaldo led a conga line through the mixed zone, although he interrupted his singing to hug any players who were talking to the media.
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