Will Cristiano Ronaldo play for Portugal at the next World Cup?
Is there any chance that CR7 could feature in the north American world cup in 2026?
The latter half of 2022 represented some of the rockiest waters that Cristiano Ronaldo has faced in his entire playing career.
First, he fell out with his manager – and seemingly everyone else above him at Man Utd – before losing his place as a regular starter for the Red Devils. Then he drafted in Piers Morgan, a well-known admirer of his, to conduct a tell-all interview which led to the termination of his contract.
After this, having assisted in taking Portugal to the last eight of the World Cup – overcoming tests from Uruguay, Ghana and Switzerland in the process – CR7 crashed out of the tournament against Morocco.
He was pictured exiting the Al Thumama stadium in tears that night, which could well be the swan-song in Ronaldo’s five-tournament World Cup run.
But would it really be beyond the realms of possibility for Ronaldo to take to the stage one final time in Canada, Mexico and the United States? GOAL looks into what a Ronaldo appearance in four years’ time could entail.
How old would Cristiano Ronaldo be at the next World Cup?
To address the elephant in the room, Cristiano Ronaldo would be 41 by the time the next World Cup rolls around. The ex-Man Utd marksman was born on February 5 1985 and, at the 2022 World Cup, he was 37 years old.
Surprisingly, he didn’t make the top five oldest players at the 2022 World Cup. That same list did, however, feature his teammate Pepe who was the third oldest representative at 39 years of age. Former Barcelona full-back Dani Alves also trumped Ronaldo’s age, at 39.
A further four years would take Ronaldo into his 40s and could see him become one of the top five oldest players to ever turn out in a World Cup fixture if he remains a part of the Selecao.
Providing no players that are older than Ronaldo feature in 2026, he would become the joint fourth oldest player, alongside Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings, who also played at 41.
He would overtake England’s age record holder, Peter Shilton, who was 40 when he played at Italia 90.
The oldest attacking player to ever play in a World Cup is Roger Milla. At the spritely age of 42, the Cameroon legend played and netted at USA 94 versus Russia.
What has Cristiano Ronaldo said about his future?
Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t retired from international football, although rumours have swirled around his future since he shared an emotional message on social media after losing to Morocco.
Ronaldo, who first represented his country in 2003, was followed by cameras as he walked towards his dressing room in tears following their shocking defeat to the Atlas Lions. He then took to social media after the event, stating that he “would never turn (his) back on (his) country.”
On Instagram, he posted: “Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career.”
“Fortunately, I won many titles of international dimension, including for Portugal, but putting our country’s name on the highest footing in the world was my biggest dream.
“I fought for it. I fought hard for this dream. In five appearances I scored in World Cups over 16 years, always by the side of great players and supported by millions of Portuguese people, I gave my all. I left it all out on the field. I never turned my face to the fight and I never gave up on that dream.
“Sadly yesterday the dream ended. It’s not worth reacting in the heat of the moment. I just want you all to know that much has been said, much has been written, and much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal has not changed for a moment. I was always one fighting for the objective of all and I would never turn my back on my colleagues and my country.”
While it would be foolish to write a man who holds the joint record for the most international appearances (196), the prospect of a sixth World Cup appearance could be ambitious.
Ronaldo lost his place in the Man Utd first team at the start of the 2022-23 season, with only sporadic time on the pitch available to him. In a similar vein, CR7 has benched in Portugal’s knockout round 6-1 demolition of Switzerland. Goncalo Ramos, the 21-year-old who replaced him, bagged a hat trick.
Against Morocco, he was only substituted onto the field of play in the 51st minute, with the game escaping the Selecao das Quinas.
Some might speculate that in four years’ time, even if he was still willing, Ronaldo’s powers could have waned to a point of non-selection for his beloved nation.
What has Cristiano Ronaldo achieved at the World Cup?
Ronaldo holds the world record for the number of goals scored internationally, with 118 goals in 196 appearances. He is also a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, the most recent of those coming in 2017.
His biggest achievement in a World Cup context will surely be the moment that he became the first men’s player in history to score at five World Cups.
The fourth-place finish he and his teammates achieved at the 2006 World Cup is more than likely the closest he will have come to getting his hands on the World Cup trophy.
Since that tournament, Portugal hasn’t progressed further than the last eight and Ronaldo doesn’t have a World Cup knockout round goal to his name.
Needless to say, this is a fact that will only add fuel to Messi fans’ claim that the Argentine has outperformed Ronaldo in the 2022 competition.
If he isn’t to appear in the North American World Cup in 2026, this trophy will be the only major piece of silverware that will have evaded him.
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