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Portugal v France Euro 2016 final: The game's greatest icon hobbles off on a night of moth and legends

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Published 11/07/2016

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)

To see Cristiano Ronaldo unable to run, unable to play and reduced to tears of frustration was to see an inversion of everything the football world expects from one of its greatest ever players. We are not used to seeing things go wrong for Ronaldo.

Ronaldo never gets injured. He almost always wins and, when he does not, he still tends to score. He has an aura of physical perfection and power about him. He is always stronger, quicker and sharper than his opponents. And yet last night, on the biggest night of his life, all of that was reduced to pieces.

This was meant to the final in which Ronaldo leaped to a new level of football greatness, by winning a major trophy with an average side, an achievement even more unlikely than any of his club or individual medals. But instead this was a match not marked by Ronaldo's presence but by his absence, a final in which the central event was a bad tackle in the middle of the pitch which was not even punished by Mark Clattenburg. The next hour, at least, felt like coming to terms with Ronaldo's tragic departure.

Although he limped on for another futile quarter of an hour , Ronaldo's effective participation in this final only last eight short minutes. He started the game steadily. This was always going to be a match that Portugal would try to drag out, slow down, stay in for as long as possible, until Ronaldo could decided it. They were not in a rush.

But when Ronaldo held up the ball out on the right, just inside the French half, all those plans were shattered. Dimitri Payet is not exactly known for his defensive diligence but he wanted to make an early impression on the game. In the opening minute Payet had been tackled by Nani, even more of a stranger to getting his hands dirty, and did not want to feel left out.

So Payet ran straight into Ronaldo. His left foot got something on the ball, but the rest of him clattered into the man.

Ronaldo went down in pain and the Portuguese medical staff ran on. What followed were just over 15 minutes of play which were genuinely difficult to watch. Ronaldo clearly was not fit to continue. His knee simply would not do its job. But this was the biggest game of his life and he could not bare to leave the field.

For 10 minutes Ronaldo struggled bravely on, limping heavily, barely able to jump, incapable of any speed beyond an uneven jog. Given Ronaldo's reliance on explosive physical power, he was utterly diminished. Ronaldo went down again, in floods of tears, knowing that he was in trouble. The medical staff were desperate to keep him on, though, so dragged himself off the pitch for treatment. His left knee was heavily strapped, hoping to support the joint enough to make it usable. This was the last chance, but when Ronaldo received the ball in the centre circle, tried to turn and break forward, it was clear the game was up.

Fernando Santos sent Ricardo Quaresma off to warm up and Ronaldo collapsed in the middle of the pitch in tears. He threw his captain's armband to the ground before realising how important it was, picking it up, and bestowing it on Nani. Ronaldo was inconsolable and, almost mocked by the presence of a moth which had landed on his face, looked broken by the premature death of all of his dreams.

As much as the France fans had enjoyed jeering Ronaldo's touches, and even his initial injury, they rose in unison to applaud him as he was taken off. It was impossible not to feel sympathy for a player who has worked so hard to drag him and his team-mates into the game of their lives, only to have it ended by an opponent's reckless bad play.

Because Ronaldo is more than just the captain, talisman and star of this Portugal team. He is a father figure to many of these younger players and feels an immense sense of responsibility to them. That has been apparent the whole tournament, down to his decision to take the first tone-setting penalty in the shoot-out against Poland, rather than the grand-standing fifth.

While the old Ronaldo, the Ronaldo of previous Portugal teams and coaches, treated his less talented team-mates as an obstacle to his own success, this Ronaldo wants to drag them up to his level. Two minutes into this final, Ronaldo played a short pass to William Carvalho who turned, looked up, and nervously skewed the ball out of play. There was no raised arms from Ronaldo, no raised voices, just a gesture of encouragement and a hope for better next time.

The tragedy for Ronaldo is that there was no next time. Minutes later he was cut down by Payet and his final was over. 12 years ago he was in tears too at this stage, but he was a 19-year-old which the promise of a great career ahead of him. Much of that career has been and gone now, and the chance of another night like this is very slim.

Which is why it hurt so much.

Belfast Telegraph

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