Cristiano Ronaldo, World Cup most expensive player, and the Portugal’s South Africa 2010 campaign were over. The Portugal’s hope to win the World Cup has ended; they were knocked out at the last-16 stage 1-0 by Spain.
“I feel a broken man, completely disconsolate, frustrated and an unimaginable sadness,” he said in a statement on his agent’s website.
His figures in South Africa tell only part of the story: a late goal in a 7-0 rout of lowly North Korea, few impressive free kicks, and one brilliant turn and shot that struck the post in Portugal’s opening match against the Ivory Coast.
Ronaldo’s overall performance over the six hours of competitive play didn’t make him one of the most excellent players in the world’s biggest football stage.
But still, Carlos Queiroz, Portugal’s coach, defended the performance of his forlorn captain.
“He is our leader, our captain,” Queiroz said. The decision over captain “belongs to the federation and the national coach. Because we did that, you must believe we did that for the right reason.”
Ronaldo had refused to answer questions after the final whistle, but later told television reporters: “How can I explain it (the defeat)? Ask the question of Carlos Queiroz.”
The Portuguese team captain received was roundly criticized at home for that and for not doing his responsibilities as the national captain.
“I was not in a position to explain what was what. I am a human being, and like any human being I suffer and I have the right to suffer alone,” Rolando said. “I know that I am the captain, and I have always assumed and will assume my responsibilities.”
Ronaldo was known for his excellent footwork and ball defense. He often faced two or three defenders, cutting down his attacking options. But in the last game, Ronaldo was neutralized by the tough defensive strategy of Spain.
“It’s very difficult to focus on Cristiano Ronaldo and try to neutralize his game,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. “We tried to mark him when he came into the area, and basically neutralized his efforts.”
As the match ended, a frustrated Ronaldo appeared to spit to camera as he walked off.