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Portugal captain and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo insists he is more motivated than ever ahead of Euro 2020.
The veteran forward is now aged 36 and is now set to star in his ninth major international tournament, having first appeared for his nation at Euro 2004.
The Juventus forward has frequently altered his style of play across his career and is now more limited physically, yet he remains one of the biggest scoring threats in the tournament.
Ronaldo scored his 104th international goal in the pre-tournament 4-0 friendly victory over Israel earlier this week and is now just five goals away from equalling the all-time international record.
Cristiano Ronaldo – with 104 goals for Portugal – is closing in on the all-time international record
(Image: Getty Images)
That record is held by former Iran international striker Ali Daei – who retired from the scene in 2006 – and could be equalled or better by the Portuguese superstar in this tournament.
Ronaldo has won a remarkable 32 trophies across his glittering career including the European Championships with his nation in 2016 and the inaugural Nations League crown three years later.
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The role of the star in Portugal’s team going into this tournament has come under scrutiny due to the wealth of attacking options available to the coach Fernando Santos.
Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes and Liverpool forward Diogo Jota are likely to be heavily involved during this tournament, while Atletico Madrid prodigy Joao Felix and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva also exciting attacking talents.
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Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva scored 28 goals in the Bundesliga last season and now represents a truly viable alternative as a central striking option, while Valencia winger Goncalo Guedes is another option.
However, Ronaldo remains one of the deadliest finishers in European football and netted 36 goals in 44 appearances for Juventus this campaign and despite the Bianconeri surrendering their Serie A title, they did win the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.
The Portuguese forward has scored 101 goals across his three seasons in Turin and is still the leading attacking star for his nation, for whom he has been capped on 175 occasions.
Ronaldo explained to reporters ahead of the tournament: “I’m as motivated, or more, than I was back in 2004.
“The Portuguese fans can expect the same as always, a team with motivation and ambition. We’ll have a positive mentality that things will go well. The team and all Portuguese fans must believe things will go well.
“The captain is good. I’ve been working well alongside my teammates and the coaching staff. We’re focused on working well.
“I hope things go as well as possible, now that the preparation work is done. We just need to fine tune a few things.
“Now the ball just needs to start rolling. We want Portugal to start well, with a win against Hungary.”
Portugal are in Group F – which is widely considered to be the strongest group – as they will take on world champions France and Germany following on from their group opener against Hungary.