New Delhi: India cricketer Virat Kohli hailed Portuguese football icon Cristiano Ronaldo as the “greatest of all time” after Portugal’s exit from the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Portugal crashed out of the World Cup with a shocking 0-1 loss to Morocco in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Veteran striker Ronaldo was a second-half substitute but failed to make an impact. He was seen in tears after the disappointing exit and received plenty of support from the fans.
“No trophy or any title can take anything away from what you’ve done in this sport and for sports fans around the world,” Kohli said in a social media post. “No title can explain the impact you’ve had on people and what I and so many around the world feel when we watch you play. That’s a gift from god.”
“A real blessing to a man who plays his heart out every single time and is the epitome of hard work and dedication and a true inspiration for any sportsperson. You are for me the greatest of all time,” he added.
It is likely the 37-year-old’s final appearance at a World Cup. He began Portugal’s round of 16 and quarterfinal games as a substitute after being benched by the team’s coach Fernando Santos.
The 37-year-old striker has now seemingly hinted about his international retirement following the disappointing exit from the tournament through a cryptic social media post.
“To win a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram on Sunday.
“Fortunately I won many titles of international dimension, including Portugal, but putting our country’s name on the highest foot in the World was my biggest dream.
“I fought for it. I fought hard for this dream. In the 5 appearances I scored in World Cups over 16 years, always by the side of great players and supported by millions of Portuguese, I gave my all. Leave it all out on the field. I never turned my face to the fight and I never gave up on that dream.
I just want you all to know that much has been said, much has been written, much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal hasn’t 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.
“For now, there’s not much more to say. Thank you, Portugal. Thank you, Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted… Now, it’s time to be a good advisor and allow each one to draw their own conclusions.”