Cristiano Ronaldo left the 2022 World Cup in tears as his chances to win the tournament for the first time in his career were shattered after his Portugal team was shocked 1-0 by Morocco in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Ronaldo was seen being escorted by a member of staff from the pitch at the Al Thumama Stadium to the Portugal team dressing room immediately after the defeat – the first time an African team has reached the World Cup semifinals –as the 37-year-old was unable to hold back his emotions.
It’s likely Ronaldo’s final appearance at a World Cup as he began Portugal’s round of 16 and quarterfinal games as a substitute after being benched by the team’s coach Fernando Santos.
Ronaldo was brought on early in the second half of Saturday’s match, but to no avail as Portugal was beaten by the Atlas Lions thanks to Youssef En-Nesyri’s first-half header.
Ronaldo’s appearance was the 196th of his Portugal career equaling Bader Al-Mutawa of Kuwait for the most caps in men’s international football history.
If it is to be Ronaldo’s final appearance at a World Cup, he has certainly made his mark on the tournament over the years.
In his 22 games at the finals, Ronaldo scored eight goals and earlier in this year’s tournament, the 37-year-old became the first men’s player to score in five World Cups.
However, his benching by Santos and his recent contract termination from Manchester United, which was announced just after the World Cup started, arguably overshadowed Ronaldo’s time at Qatar 2022 in a tournament where he scored just one goal.