HomeMartinez hails Ronaldo's 'contagious hunger' as Portugal eye Euro 2024 tilt

Martinez hails Ronaldo’s ‘contagious hunger’ as Portugal eye Euro 2024 tilt

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Portugal coach Roberto Martinez says Cristiano Ronaldo’s “contagious hunger” is what sets him apart from other top players, as the 39-year-old prepares to lead his country to another major tournament.

Euro 2024 will be Ronaldo’s 11th major international tournament, with the forward previously representing Portugal at five European Championships and five World Cups.

While many expected Ronaldo to call time on his international career when he joined Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr last year, the Real Madrid and Manchester United great has retained the captain’s armband under Martinez.

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Ronaldo scored 10 goals in nine Euro 2024 qualification games, a tally only bettered by Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku (14), and he will lead a talented Portugal squad in Germany this summer.

Speaking to RTVE, Martinez said Ronaldo’s mentality was different to that of any other player he has previously worked with.

“I’ve worked with many good players, but what sets Cristiano apart is the need to always be prepared to be the best,” Martinez said.

“It’s a contagious hunger, but one which is very difficult to achieve.”

Portugal were handed a relatively kind group-stage draw ahead of the tournament; they will begin their Group F campaign against the Czech Republic on June 18 before facing Turkey and whichever of Greece, Kazakhstan, Georgia or Luxembourg qualifies from play-off path C.

Portugal are viewed as one of the favourites to go all the way, and Martinez believes they have what it takes.

“We have already won it once [in 2016]. We are lucky to be able to play with four generations of players,” Martinez said.

“Winning a European Championship is about the details of the day. It’s a very demanding tournament, but what matters are the details.

“France produces players at a volume that no other country can. England has a coach who has created a club culture within the team. Belgium has a generation that is very competitive.

“You can never leave out Italy, they have a competitive nature, and Germany are having a difficult period, but in their tournament they can still be champions.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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