An ecstatic Cristiano Ronaldo hailed Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph as an “unforgettable” experience, and called his side’s 1-0 defeat of France in Sunday’s final one of the happiest moments of his career.
The Real Madrid superstar limped off in the 25th minute of the tournament’s deciding game at the Stade de France with a left knee injury, but his absence did not prevent Portugal from overcoming the hosts in extra time thanks to a thunderous strike from substitute Eder in the 109th minute.
The win brought Portugal their first major tournament title 12 years after Ronaldo & Co. improbably fell in the Euro 2004 final on home soil to unlikely champions Greece.
Ronaldo expressed his delight after the match, saying: “I’m so happy — very happy. This was something I have wanted for a long time now, ever since [Euro] 2004 [final defeat].
“I asked God to give me another chance. The Portuguese people deserve this; our players deserved this.”
The triumph in Saint-Denis gave Ronaldo a European double of club and international crowns this season after Real Madrid won the Champions League title over city rivals Atletico Madrid in May.
In what has been a happy three months for the Portugal captain, the three-time Ballon d’Or winner ranked Sunday’s win among the top moments of his ultra-successful career.
“We beat France and I’m delighted. This is one of the happiest moments in my career. I’ve always said I wanted to win a trophy with the national team and make history. And I did it. Thank God, things went well for us.”
He added: “I’d like to thank my teammates, our coach, our wider team in this Euro, the Portuguese people and all the ex-pats who were always with us, cheering for us from the beginning.
“This is a unique moment for me, for all the Portuguese people and it’s unforgettable.”