Cristiano Ronaldo this morning made a surprise media appearance in which he hit back at criticism over his explosive Manchester United interview with Piers Morgan, describing himself as “bullet-proof”.
In the interview, which aired in full last week, Ronaldo claimed he does not respect Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag and criticised the club over a lack of ambition.
United are reportedly exploring legal options in order to terminate the forward’s contract, with the fallout causing heavy distraction on the eve of Portugal’s World Cup campaign.
In Pictures | Cristiano Ronaldo
While Ronaldo did not make mention of the national team, the timing of the interview’s release has raised eyebrows, though Portugal boss Fernando Santos insisted he did not expect the saga to negatively effect his side’s chances.
Bit of a shock at Portugal training ground where Cristiano Ronaldo has come to see the media... not advertised in advance and relatively few here pic.twitter.com/UB1nqEmCA7
— Jeremy Wilson (@JWTelegraph) November 21, 2022
“In my life, the best timing is always my timing. From your side it is easy to look at how we can chose timings. Sometimes you write truths, sometimes you write lies. I don’t have to think about what other people think. I speak when I want.
“The players know me really well for many years and know the type of person I am. It’s an ambitious group that is hungry and focused. So I’m sure (the interview) won’t shake the changing room’s concentration and focus.”
Ronaldo appeared alongside United teammate Bruno Fernandes, who rejected suggestions of animosity between the pair after a video of an awkward-looking handshake went viral on social media.
Fernandes claimed he was “just playing around”, explaining: “His plane was late - I asked him did you come by boat”.
Ronaldo missed last week’s warm-up friendly against Nigeria because of a stomach bug but has since returned to training and expects to be fit to face Ghana in Portugal’s opener on Thursday.
“I’m feeling great, I’m recovered and I’m training well and ready to start the World Cup in the best way possible,” Ronaldo said. “I feel that this Portugal squad has amazing potential. I think we can win for sure, but we need to focus on the next game. So, it’s focusing in Ghana, get a win and go from there.
“We will see in the end who the best team is, but I believe Portugal is the best team in this World Cup. But we need to show it on the pitch.”
At 37, this is almost certain to be Ronaldo’s last World Cup and his final chance to lift the one trophy missing from his CV. Long-time rival Lionel Messi is in a similar position with Argentina but Ronaldo dismissed the idea that winning the tournament would finish the debate over which of the pair is the greatest player of all-time.