WAS this the last time the world will ever see Cristiano Ronaldo on a football pitch?
Seeing him exit the tunnel after Portugal’s heartbreaking loss to Morocco, one can’t help but wonder if this may be the final game this mercurial star player from Medeira ever played.
It is a bittersweet ending for the only player that can be truly called a rival to Lionel Messi as the greatest of all time. This game can be very cruel to an aging star athlete.
It was hard to watch him walking past the camera in tears as there is no competition in a professional footballer’s life that can break one’s heart more than the World Cup.
Beginning of the end
Used as a substitute in the last two games due to rising young star Goncalo Ramos’ scoring proficiency on goal, Ronaldo’s importance to Portugal’s campaign looked to have quickly dissipated overnight.
It did not help that he may have fueled bad publicity towards him from his ill-timed interview with Piers Morgan prior to the World Cup and signs of petulance after getting replaced versus South Korea.
The coach Fernando Santos was put in an awkward situation when asked about Ronaldo’s attitude, to which he was forced to say something critical towards his star player.
Whether that contributed to the tactical disadvantage that ultimately led to Portugal’s loss is up for debate. Ronaldo’s fans and even neutrals in social media were quick to point out that he would have made a difference if he started the game.
All credit to Morocco. They have been brilliant in this tournament and have yet to concede a goal in this World Cup, except for an own goal against Canada. They were truly the dark horse in this tournament.
The Arab world and Africa rejoiced as this was the first time a team representing their people had reached the semi finals. Fans were seen partying in the streets of Doha until the wee hours of the morning.
They will be facing defending champions France December 15 at 3am Manila time next week.
England can’t get over the hump
Perhaps more tragic than Ronaldo’s quiet exit and World Cup futility is England. There were high hopes coming to Qatar that this could finally be the year the English bring the cup home.
They haven’t won the title since 1966. Given the fact that they invented the sport, have produced some of the best players and is home of arguably the best league in the world, the Premier League, they’ve only won the World Cup once in its 92-year history.
Their head-to-head record against France heading into this matchup did not provide much optimism as France has been unbeaten in seven of their last eight games against each other. The only thing that gave fans a glimmer of hope was the team’s performance of late and what appeared to be better team chemistry.
All hopes were dashed and dreams of England reaching the finals for the first time since their 4-2 win against West Germany in 1966 were squashed immediately when, after trailing 2-1 in the 82nd minute, Harry Kane missed a penalty kick horribly that would have tied it and forced extra time.
Instead, that sky-high miss sent the English packing and Kane in the annals of English World Cup infamy.
What could have been a Ronaldo Vs Messi final or the World Cup finally coming home to England, ended in a bitter disappointment.
All we can say now is, thanks for the memories, Cristiano Ronaldo and better luck next time England.