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Cristiano Ronaldo on new level of greatness after Portugal Euros win

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Published 12/07/2016

Portugal's Bruno Alves, Ricardo Quaresma, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fonte, Andre Gomes and Joao Mario celebrate winning the European Championship. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's Bruno Alves, Ricardo Quaresma, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fonte, Andre Gomes and Joao Mario celebrate winning the European Championship. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Portugal's supporters celebrate at the Lyon fanzone following the Euro 2016 football tournament final match between Portugal and France on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ROMAIN LAFABREGUEROMAIN LAFABREGUE/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Portugal players celebrate after their side win 1-0 against France during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory at Terreiro do Paco square in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after watching on a giant screen the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
France's coach Didier Deschamps reacts during the Euro 2016 final football match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
France's forward Kingsley Coman's wife Sephora Coman (top C) reacts during the Euro 2016 final football match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo (L) of Portugal celebrates winning with his team mates Eduardo (C) and Anthony Lopes (R) at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates winning at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Pepe and Rui Patricio of Portugal celebrate winning at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - (From R) Portugal's midfielder Renato Sanches, Portugal's forward Eder, Portugal's defender Cedric Soares, Portugal's midfielder Adrien Silva, Portugal's midfielder Joao Mario, Portugal's midfielder Andre Gomes, Portugal's midfielder Joao Moutinho, Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal's defender Pepe, Portugal's forward Ricardo Quaresma, Portugal's defender Bruno Alves, Portugal's midfielder Danilo Pereira and Portugal's defender Eliseu pose with the trophy as they celebrate after beating France during the Euro 2016 final football match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Eder of Portugal scores the opening goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts from the bench after his side hit the during extra-time of the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Sandra Evra, wife of France's defender Patrice Evra, consles her son after Portugal beat France 1-0 in the Euro 2016 final football match between France and Portugal at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on July 10, 2016. Portugal beat France 1-0 to clinch the Euro 2016. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Danilo Pereira of Portugal high fives with a supporter while walking up the steps to collect winners medals after their win in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Manager Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrate winning at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Manager Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrate winning at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates with his team staffs after winning the tournament after the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo (L) of Portugal celebrates winning with his team mates Eduardo (C) and Anthony Lopes (R) at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Nani of Portugal celebrates winning at the final whistle after the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is seen during the award ceremony after their team's 1-0 win in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Eder (L) and Joao Mario of Portugal celebrate winning after the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Fernando Santos gestures on the touchline during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Portugal's Eder celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal's Eder (second left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates winning at the final whistle after the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
France's Paul Pogba, top, and Antoine Griezmann walk down the tribune at the end of the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Portugal won 1-0. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Portugal supporters celebrate victory near the Arc de Triomphe after the Euro 2016 football tournament final match between Portugal and France on July 10, 2016 in Paris. Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo devoted Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph over France on Sunday to "all Portuguese and all immigrants". / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, embraces France's Patrice Evra at the end of the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Portugal won 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Joao Mario of Portugal and Paul Pogba of France compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Portugal players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
The Eiffel tower is lit with Portugal colors after the Euro 2016 final football match between Portugal and France at the Champ-de-Mars fan zone in Paris on July 10, 2016. Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo devoted Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph over France to "all Portuguese and all immigrants". / AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARDALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo holds up the trophy at the end of the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Portugal won 1-0. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
French President Francois Hollande, second left, shakes hands with France's Antoine Griezmann while French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, left, looks on after the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France, Sunday, July 10, 2016 at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. Portugal won 1-0. At right is France's Paul Pogba. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, Pool)
Portugal's Eder celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal supporters celebrate victory near the Arc de Triomphe after the Euro 2016 football tournament final match between Portugal and France on July 10, 2016 in Paris. Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo devoted Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph over France on Sunday to "all Portuguese and all immigrants". / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Eder (C) of Portugal celebrates scoring the opening goal with his team mates during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
France's Antoine Griezmann walks down the tribune at the end of the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Portugal won 1-0. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo kisses the trophy at the end of the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Portugal won 1-0. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
France's Antoine Griezmann reacts as after Portugal's Eder scored the opening goal during the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
TOPSHOT - The Eiffel tower is lit with Portugal colors after the Euro 2016 final football match between Portugal and France at the Champ-de-Mars fan zone in Paris on July 10, 2016. Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo devoted Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph over France to "all Portuguese and all immigrants". / AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARDALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's Eder (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Pepe of Portugal celebrates during the award ceremony after his team's 1-0 win in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
France supporters walk near the Arc de Triomphe after the Euro 2016 football tournament final match between Portugal and France on July 10, 2016 in Paris. Star striker Cristiano Ronaldo devoted Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph over France on Sunday to "all Portuguese and all immigrants". / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Fernando Santos manager of Portugal is thrown into the air by his players after his side win 1-0 against France during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Fernando Santos manager of Portugal is thrown into the air by his players after his side win 1-0 against France during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Portugal players celebrate after Eder (second left) scores his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is seen during the award ceremony after their team's 1-0 win in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Portugal players celebrate after Eder (left, obscured) scores his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory at Marques de Pombal square in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRAPATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates winning the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal's national football team supporters celebrate their team's victory in Lisbon on July 10, 2016 after the Euro 2016 final football match Portugal vs France played in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE MANUEL RIBEIROJOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo pushes manager Fernando Santos during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal supporters hold a flag and a trophy replica as they celebrate after the Euro 2016 final football match between France and Germany on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELTGEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images
Portugal celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Portugal celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 Final at the Stade de France, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
A general view of the Stade de France during the UEFA Euro 2016 Final between Portugal and France. *Editors note taken with a tilt and shift lens*. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Renato Sanches (top) and Portugal players celebrate their team's first goal scored by Eder (obscured) during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal players celebrate after their 1-0 win against France in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Renato Sanches (top) and Portugal players celebrate their team's first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Renato Sanches (top) and Portugal players celebrate their team's first goal scored by Eder (obscured) during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Manager Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrate winning at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal kisses the Henri Delaunay trophy to celebrate after their 1-0 win against France in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe hold the trophy at the end of the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Portugal won 1-0. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

It was 2.20am on Sunday night when Cristiano Ronaldo finally emerged through the mixed zone in the Stade de France. He was arm-in-arm with Ricardo Carvalho, part of a conga line which included Nani, Jose Fonte, Bruno Alves and Eder. They were singing as they danced through the room, onto the coach and their next party.

Two things were immediately apparent about Ronaldo, beyond the fact that his damaged left knee was so heavily strapped that his dancing was uneven.

The first was that this was the happiest moment of his whole career, even after three Champions Leagues and three Ballons d'Or. The second was that this was a Ronaldo subsumed within the group, one of the lads, entirely at odds with his selfish reputation.

Everything Ronaldo did during the 1-0 win over France was for the good of the team, as he overcame the ending of his own dreams by urging his compatriots on to fulfil theirs.

During the second-half and then extra-time, we saw a new Ronaldo, coaching his team-mates, running up and down the touchline, kicking and heading every ball.

Cedric Soares said: "Always he helped our team-mates, he always had a lot of motivational words.

"He had fantastic words for each player."

This was final proof of what had been apparent all tournament, that Ronaldo relishes his role as a father figure for this young team.

He has embraced the fact that, as their best player and captain, he has a duty to his team-mates to give everything he can for the group. That is what Fernando Santos told him when he took over two years ago and Ronaldo agreed.

What it shows is that at 31-years-old, Ronaldo has grown up.

His peak years, his first five or so seasons at Real Madrid, were spent scoring stacks of goals, but for a dysfunctional team. He won one La Liga, one Champions League and two Ballons d'Or, but always gave the impression of being slightly unfulfilled.

This year, though, even if he is not quite the player he was, Ronaldo has been finally rewarded for his years of brilliance.

The third Champions League title was far from his best performance, but it puts him on an even higher level of individual achievement.

This European Championship counts for even more. There are only so many players who have triumphed in the club game and the international one, but Ronaldo (right) can now claim to have done so. And while Andres Iniesta has won even more than him - four Champions Leagues and three international trophies - he won those as part of a brilliant Spain team.

Zinedine Zidane's World Cup and European Championship also came in a France team packed with talent.

Ronaldo's achievement of dragging an average side up to his level is more impressive. It puts him on an even higher level of greatness, and gives him a claim to be Europe's finest ever footballer. He has been at the top for 10 years, an achievement in itself, and now has the individual, club and international honours to show for it.

One day soon enough, Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale will be the best two European players. Even Ronaldo cannot go on forever. But what has been so thrilling about Ronaldo in France has been how he has held off the challenge from these two pretenders.

He beat Bale's Wales in the semi-final, scoring a brilliant header, a goal that only he could have scored. Then, in the final, Griezmann blew his chance to win it and Ronaldo was the champion. Getting to the top is one thing but staying there is even harder.

So what now? The only trophy he has not yet won is the World Cup. He feels such a strong sense of duty to this Portugal team that he will stay for the next two years to try to take them to Russia.

He knows that Renato Sanches, William Carvalho, Joao Mario and Bernardo Silva will all be better by then.

Ronaldo will be 33 but he has never played in a World Cup final and will not give up one more chance to get there.

Ronaldo has two years left on his contract at Real Madrid and would like a new deal. He did flirt with Paris Saint Germain last season but they are now going in a different direction.

Manchester United, too, have gone for other big-name players and now employ Jose Mourinho with whom Ronaldo fell out at Real.

The likeliest scenario is that Ronaldo stays in Madrid. He could very well win another Champions League, or Spanish title, before he eventually moves on.

This win, though, counts for more than anything else. He has inspired a team to be better than they thought they could be.

He has dragged a team up to his level, which no one thought he could do. And he has done so with a maturity and selflessness few saw in him.

Nothing else he has done or will do will match this.

Belfast Telegraph

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