Dalot: It’s an honour to represent my country
Manchester United full-back Diogo Dalot says he fulfilled a lifelong dream after making his senior debut for Portugal on Wednesday evening.
The 22-year-old made his international bow as a 79th-minute substitute during his country’s 2-2 draw with France in their final group-stage encounter of this summer’s European Championship.
Two penalties from Reds legend Cristiano Ronaldo were cancelled out by a brace from France’s Karim Benzema, including a spot-kick of his own, during an action-packed 90 minutes in Budapest.
The point ensured Portugal would qualify for the last 16 of the tournament as one of the four best third-placed sides having finished behind France and Germany in Group F, with Dalot, Bruno Fernandes and co now Seville-bound as they prepare to take on Belgium in the first knockout round on Sunday.
The defender, who spent last season on loan at Milan, started the summer by playing every minute in the Portugal U21s' run to the final of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, where they were narrowly beaten by Germany at the Stozice Stadium in Slovenia earlier this month.
Exactly a week on from that final, Dalot became our 12th representative at Euro 2020 when he received his first senior call-up, replacing Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo, who had to withdraw from Fernando Santos’ squad after testing positive for Covid-19.
Having watched Portugal’s opening-game victory against Hungary two days later from the stands, our no.20 was an unused substitute in Saturday’s defeat to Germany before getting his opportunity in his country's third match of the tournament against Les Bleus last night.
It is a game, and a day, Dalot will never forget, as he expressed in a social media post following the match on Wednesday.
“Today will be eternalised in my memory as the day I fulfilled a dream,” the Portuguese’s caption read.
“What an honour to represent my country, in the finals of a European [competition], and to make it through to the round of 16.
“Thank you all for the support. On the field we feel each one of you.”
23.06.2021 🗓— Diogo Dalot (@DalotDiogo) June 23, 2021
O dia de hoje ficará eternizado na minha memória como o dia em que cumpri um sonho 🙌
Que honra representar o meu país, numa fase final de um europeu, e conseguir a passagem aos oitavos 🇵🇹
Obrigado a todos pelo apoio. Dentro de campo sentimos cada um de vocês ❤️ pic.twitter.com/UKrw3YuyXC
On a proud night for Dalot and his family, the full-back also reflected on proceedings in Budapest when speaking to UEFA, where he gave his thoughts on the 2-2 draw with Paul Pogba’s France.
"We knew it was a very difficult game against a very strong opponent.
“We managed to respond to the goal conceded, I made my debut, and to top it off with qualifying was very good – [it was] a perfect night.
“We'll have time to analyse Belgium, but the most important thing now is to recharge our batteries.”
Congratulations from all of us at Manchester United, Diogo.