Cristiano Ronaldo leaves, Gonçalo Ramos shines

The greatest player in the history of Portugal. Of the best of all time. His fifth and likely last participation in Cups. Decisive game. Knockout. And? Reserve it.

A complex mix of bewilderment and agreement. The kind of bombshell news that takes a good few minutes to swallow and digest. There were even those who did not believe. I was late, honestly.

It’s not every day that Cristiano Ronaldo is announced as a substitute. Much less in the national team, nor in a World Cup. An unprecedented, historic and also controversial moment.

Not that the ace didn’t deserve to leave the team. Yes, deserved it. It took a long time to get out, by the way. Delayed or not, an impactful option. Highly courageous.

Fernando Santos hit his chest and put the (decadent) star on the bench right in the round of 16 of the final against Switzerland. Fearlessly launched the ascendant Gonçalo Ramos among the starters.

I open parentheses here and apologize for my arrogance: it is necessary to know the depths of Portuguese football in depth to understand the dimension of this decision. On and off the field.

From 2004 to 2022, Ronaldo, now 37 years old, was undisputed in Portugal. Untouchable. He commanded and commanded. He also led. He won. Conquered. A Euro Cup and a League of Nations.

The time flies. Age comes. It weighs. For all. Even for those who often seem to have come from another planet, not from Funchal, on Madeira Island. It is necessary to make room for those who also want and came to shine.

Of the big surprises in the 26 squad for Qatar, Gonçalo Ramos emerged quietly. Shy. Just like in childhood in Olhão, in the Algarve. In the same way as he did at Benfica, last season.

Leading scorer in the current edition of the Portuguese league, with nine goals, the 21-year-old did what the ultimate idol is used to seeing: the net swinging. One. Two. 3 times. An unforgettable hat trick.

He commanded with excellence a more mobile, intense and predatory attack. He justified having recently been armored by the red club, where he was revealed, with a termination fine of 120 million euros (R $ 662 million).

It was the Swiss army knife that made Portugal thrash by 6 to 1, play like they had not played in the 2022 Cup and, consequently, guarantee their presence in the quarterfinals. A debut as a starter worthy of the giants,

He was, above all, the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo, whose name was shouted several times at the Lusail Stadium and only entered the game in the 27th minute of the second half.

A light at the end of the tunnel. A bright present that walks, even with the past by its side, to be the promising future.

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