Cristiano Ronaldo skipped Portugal’s press conference ahead of the country’s opening match against Ghana on Thursday, following his shock split from Manchester United on Tuesday.
Ronaldo’s teammate Bruno Fernandes – also of Manchester United – took the podium on Wednesday, along with Portuguese manager Fernando Santos. Fernandes also addressed Ronaldo’s departure from the Premier League club.
“It was good for me while it lasted. Now Cristiano has made a different decision for his career and his family and we have to respect that,” Fernandes said, according to the Manchester Evening Standard.
‘I haven’t discussed the subject with Cris. We are all focused on the national team and the World Cup. I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t have to choose sides. It was a dream come true to play with Cristiano [at United] but nothing lasts forever.”
Team captains typically attend the media sessions along with their managers, and as Ronaldo has captained Portugal for more than a decade, the 37-year-old athlete was expected to attend.
Ronaldo’s tenure at Manchester United had reached a breaking point in recent weeks, with the famed striker criticizing the club and his manager, Erik ten Hag, in a bombshell interview with Piers Morgan.
During the sit-down, Ronaldo – who returned to Manchester United in 2021 after playing for the club from 2003-2009 – said he has “no respect” for ten Hag, who he claimed was one of many who tried to crowd his way in the off season.
Ronaldo also likened Manchester United to a “marketing club” and accused the Glazer family, who own the team, of caring more about what happens off the pitch than on it.
Manchester United thanked Ronaldo for his contributions on Tuesday.
“The club thanks him for his tremendous contribution during two spells at Old Trafford, in which he scored 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family all the best for the future,” the statement said.
Follow all the 2022 World Cup action with more from the New York Post
Ronaldo, who has since been linked to Chelsea, will not receive the $19.1 million he was supposed to earn for the remainder of his contract, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.
As for the World Cup itself, Portugal has not missed the global event since Ronaldo first joined the team in 2006. That tournament was the furthest Ronaldo has made it in a World Cup, when Portugal lost to France in the semi-finals.
Four years ago, he and Portugal finished second in their pool against Spain before losing 2–1 to Uruguay in the Round of 16. Ronaldo, however, had one of his most memorable performances with a hat-trick against Spain in Portugal’s opening match.