How Ronaldo could make history in Qatar
Cristiano Ronaldo is celebrating, alongside club and international team-mates Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot, after Portugal secured a place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.
Fernando Santos’s side were forced to book their ticket to Qatar the hard way, having been pipped to top spot in their qualifying group by Serbia.
After edging out Turkey 3-1 in the play-off semi-finals last week, Fernandes’s brace in Porto was enough to see the Selecao past North Macedonia – conquerors of Italy – and into the 32-team tournament which will take place later this year.
While Dalot will be dreaming of a first World Cup involvement and Fernandes of regular games in the competition after being limited to just one start four years ago, Ronaldo has the opportunity to make history in the Middle East.
The 37-year-old was first selected for a World Cup in 2006, when a Portugal side featuring the likes of Luis Figo, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho progressed to the semi-finals before being eliminated by France.
Ronaldo scored a penalty against Iran in Germany and he has found the net at every tournament since, placing him in a select group as only Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose can join Cristiano in saying they’ve scored goals at four separate World Cups.
Of course, that trio are long retired while CR7 is still going strong, which means he could make history and become the first male player to register at five editions of the world’s premier sporting event.
Although, with seven goals, he is still some way behind Klose’s record tally of 16, there are two other landmarks Ronaldo could achieve this winter.
Twelve years is the longest span between a player's first and last goals at the tournament and he will go out on his own as the record holder with 16 should he find the net in Qatar.
Simply playing at a quintet of tournaments is actually a rare achievement in itself, with only three other players having done it before.
Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal’s World Cup career spanned from 1950 to 1966, while Germany legend Lothar Matthaus appeared at every finals between 1982 and 1998.
Rafael Marquez, also of Mexico, added his name to the list at the 2018 World Cup, having first made his tournament bow back in 2002.
Ronaldo will match the trio if he plays in Qatar, and he could be joined by eternal rival Lionel Messi, who has also featured at each World Cup since 2006.