From cheering to smiling to singing, Cristiano Ronaldo took a few moments to celebrate with his Portuguese team-mates after qualifying for what would be his record-breaking fifth FIFA World Cup. (More football news)
The top scorer in men’s international football has never won the sport’s biggest prize, but he will get another chance this year in Qatar. “The years go by, but the goals always remain the same,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram on Wednesday.
Four other players have played in five FIFA World Cups: Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon from 1998-2014, Mexican defender Rafael Márquez from 2002-18, German midfielder Lothar Matthaeus from 1982-1998 and Mexican goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal from 1950 to 1966. Buffon was in the Italy team in 1998 but did not take part in the tournament.
Argentina great Lionel Messi, Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and Mexican midfielder Andrés Guardado, who also appeared at four FIFA World Cups, also have the chance to join Ronaldo playing in Qatar. Spanish defender Sergio Ramos has also appeared at four FIFA World Cups, but he hasn’t been called up recently by coach Luis Enrique.
Ronaldo will play his 10th consecutive major tournament in a streak that began at the 2004 European Championship and includes four FIFA World Cups and four other European tournaments, a competition he helped Portugal win in 2016.
Ronaldo is the only player to have scored at least once in nine top-flight tournaments in a row and will be able to extend many of his international records in Qatar, including his mark of 115 goals with the national team. He is also Portugal’s active player with the most World Cup goals with seven, two less than Eusebio’s nine.
In 17 World Cup matches, Ronaldo has six wins, six losses and five draws. He had two assists in those matches, and that’s how he helped his side win on Tuesday, netting Bruno Fernandes’ first-half goal at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto. Fernandes added the second after halftime.
“Goal accomplished,” Ronaldo said after the game. “We reached the World Cup in Qatar. We are where we deserve to be. It will be the sixth successive World Cup appearance for Portugal, whose best campaign was a third-place finish in 1966 and a fourth-place finish in 2006 in Ronaldo’s first attempt.
Portugal were knocked out in the round of 16 in 2010 and 2018, and did not progress beyond the group stage in 2014. Ronaldo’s Instagram post on Tuesday is accompanied by a picture of himself and his longtime friend Pepe, the 39-year-old player. former veteran defender who will probably also play his last World Cup.
Ronaldo would be 41 at the time of the 2026 World Cup, and he said before Tuesday’s game that he was starting to be bothered by repeated questions about how long he planned to keep playing.
Those questions will probably be gone for now as everyone knows there will be at least one more World Cup for Ronaldo.