Cristiano Ronaldo shuts down Portugal retirement rumours in defiant statement

Cristiano Ronaldo has slammed rumours of him retiring from international football ahead of Portugal’s crucial World Cup qualifier.

The Euro 2016 champions take on North Macedonia in a play-off final where they have to win in order to book their place at the Qatar World Cup later this year. Ronaldo, 37, is on a quest to avoid the same fate as Italy, who shocked the footballing world by losing to the underdog nation last week.

Portugal have already suffered big upsets in the last year, having drawn to the Republic of Ireland and lost to Serbia in November. And when asked if he would retire if things don’t go his country’s way on Tuesday, Ronaldo did not attempt to mask his frustration.

The forward said at a press conference: "I'm already beginning to see the same question many times. I am the one who will decide my future, nobody else. If I feel like playing more, I'll play. If not, I don't play. I'm in charge, period.

"There is always pressure. We are all prepared. We really wanted to play in this final. If North Macedonia are here, it is because they deserve to be."

Speaking about the squad ahead of the tie, Ronaldo added: "No-one is more important than anyone else. We really want to take Portugal to the World Cup."

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A win against North Macedonia would see Ronaldo reach a staggering fifth personal World Cup. The Manchester United icon became the all-time leading international goal-scorer in September last year when he netted his 110th and 111th goals against Ireland.

He now boasts an incredible record of 115 goals in 185 matches. Tuesday's clash could see him be joined by club team-mates Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes as the Red Devils stars look to book Portugal's place in Friday’s group-stage draw.

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