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Tears, dinner & battle plan: How Martinez convinced Ronaldo to play on for Portugal

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez is convinced they can win Euro2024 with Cristiano Ronaldo leading their attack.

Martinez, whose contract as Belgium boss finished after their poor World Cup, replaced Fernando Santos — who was axed after Portugal's disappointing showing in Qatar.

Less than a week after being appointed, Martinez flew to Riyadh on January 11 to watch the Spanish Super Cup.

It was there over dinner that Martinez laid out his plans to Ronaldo, who had only just joined Saudi Arabian outfit Al Nassr after his acrimonious departure from Manchester United.

Firstly, to assure the 38-year-old of his continued involvement, and to convince him of his ambitions to win Euro 2024.

Ronaldo had plenty of scars to heal after Martinez's predecessor Santos dropped him for the last two games of their Qatar campaign.

Hot favourites Portugal lost 1-0 to surprise package Morocco in the quarter-finals — with even an appearance off the bench by Ronaldo failing to work.

Tears were shed by the five-time Ballon d'Or winner in the tunnel and dressing room after that match in Doha.

He felt his international career was over after 19 years, 196 caps and a world-record 118 international goals.

Martinez, though, gave Ronaldo fresh optimism that he is part of his country's plans ahead of next year's Euro finals in Germany.

Martinez told The Sun: “Cristiano is a player who is completely committed to the national team.

“I don't look at age or other aspects.

“He has the chance to help the team and pass on his experience to other players."

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Paul Vegas

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