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Former Portugal Boss Fernando Santos Opens Up on Ronaldo Snubbing Him Since 2022 World Cup Exit
- Fernando Santos has opened up on his estranged relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo
- According to Santos, Ronaldo has blanked him since Portugal's quarterfinal exit at the World Cup
- The pair have experienced contrasting fortunes since the Mundial in Qatar
Fernando Santos has disclosed that Cristiano Ronaldo has been 'ignoring' him since Portugal's quarterfinal elimination at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo was excluded from the starting lineup for the second consecutive match by Santos at the quadrennial tournament after a sub-par performance in the group stages, which yielded only one goal in three games.
Despite coming on as a substitute in the second half against tournament dark horses Morocco, with the Selecao already trailing, the opposing goalkeeper easily saved his solitary opportunity, ESPN reports.
Ultimately, Morocco defeated Portugal 1-0, becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals of the World Cup.
The controversial decision by the 69-year-old coach to sideline his star player, which he characterized as "strategic," did not sit well with Ronaldo. Since Portugal's unexpected departure, the two have not had any communication.
Santos, who was dismissed shortly after the tournament, which Ronaldo's rival Lionel Messi won, has disclosed that the choice has had a lasting impact on their relationship.
"We haven't spoken since I came from Qatar," he told A Bola as quoted by Globo.
He continued: "On the day of the game, in the morning, when I went to explain that he wasn't going to play and why he wasn't playing, he misunderstood."
"From my side, the relationship is the same, and he continues to be like a son to me. The day the phone rings he knows I'm always here".
Under the guidance of the new Portugal manager, Roberto Martinez, Cristiano has been firmly reinstated, recording nine goals in seven 2024 Euro qualifiers since the beginning of the year.
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In contrast, Santos was relieved of his duties as Poland's coach following a faltering start.
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Santos insists dropping Ronaldo was "strategic"
Almost a year following this pivotal choice, Santos has revisited his decision, providing insight into the rationale behind his actions.
He underscored that if presented with the opportunity, he would make the same decision to bench the prominent player once more.