KEIR RADNEDGE in ST-DENIS: Portugal coach Fernando Santos thanked his family, his friends, his god, his fans, his nation and his players after completing the perfect career circle.
Two years ago Santos began his managerial term with Portugal in a game against France at the Stade de France when he told his players the plan was to qualify for Euro 2016 and then win it – back at the very same venue.
They did so despite finishing third in their first-round group and managing to win only one of their six matches within the 90 minutes. Ultimate triumph was secured with an extra-time strike from substitute striker Eder.
Santos, after his vote of thanks to the world, started with praising the all-round contribution of captain.
He said: “Cristiano Ronaldo has been an amazing example. He tried twice, after being injured, to stay on the pitch but he was very strng in the dressing room and helped all the boys. That’s the definition of teamwork and why we deserved to win.
“I’d also like to thank the federation because I started with a suspension of eight matches [from the 2014 World Cup]. I told the players I’ve been proud to be their manager. I’d like to thank all those players who are here and those who are not.
“Cristiano has been crucial. It would be Utopian not to use Ronaldo and all his added value. Cristiano can score at any moment and sort everything on hs own but we are a team, we win as a team. We have a lot of talent but first we have to be able to fight more and run more than our opponents.
“As for Eder, when he went into the game he said: ‘I’m going to score.’ and so the ugly duckling came and turned into a swan. Our goalkeeper, Rui Patricio, has been beyond reproach. He was a key player. Pepe has a lot of passion and puts it all the pitch.
“Portugal are always hard to beat. From the start the players believed what I told that we could be European champions. Now this is a victory for the Portuguese people and for all the Portuguese people who are outside our country.
“We thought this would be our night – and it was.”
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