Revealed: How Cristiano Ronaldo's 'fantastic' half-time speech inspired Portugal to Euro glory
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal teammates have hailed his pep talks as the catalyst behind their 1-0 victory over France in Sunday’s European Championship final.
The Real Madrid forward and national team captain was stretchered off the Stade de France field in the 25th minute after suffering an early knee injury.
Despite leaving the pitch in tears, Ronaldo returned to the touchline after half-time and barked directions at his teammates for the remainder of the match.
After Eder’s strike sealed victory for Portugal in extra-time, Cedric Soares, the Southampton full-back, revealed how Ronaldo had inspired the win.
"He gave us a lot of confidence and he said, 'Listen people, I'm sure we will win this Euro so stay together and fight for it'.
"It was unbelievable,” Soares added. “All the team had a fantastic attitude and showed that when you fight as one you are much, much stronger.
"He was fantastic. His attitude was unbelievable. At half-time he helped a lot, our colleagues, he had always a lot of motivational words. All the team reacted to them so it was very, very good."
Eder, the match-winner, also praised Ronaldo’s motivational abilities and claimed that the 31-year-old had predicted that he would score the decisive goal.
"[Ronaldo] told me I would score the winning goal for the team," he told O Jogo, the Portuguese newspaper. "He gave me this strength, this energy and it was vital.
"It was a goal I've been working for from the first minute of the Euros,” he added.
"For all the work we did, for all of the Portuguese, it's fantastic. It's well deserved and we should all be congratulated."
The victory marked Portugal's first success at a major international tournament, coming 12 years after their Euro 2004 final defeat to Greece.
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Independent News Service