• World Cup

Ronaldo: I've earned spotlight on biggest stage

ESPN staff
June 16, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo takes part in light training for Portugal ahead of the World Cup in Brazil © Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo insists he has nothing to prove at the World Cup as the spotlight turns on the Real Madrid superstar before Portugal's opening match against Germany.

A day after Lionel Messi scored his first World Cup goal in eight years to help Argentina to a 2-1 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is Ronaldo's turn to take centre stage.

Players such as Neymar and Robin van Persie have also shone for Brazil and the Netherlands, but Ronaldo, the current holder of the Ballon d'Or, says he feels no pressure to light up the tournament with Portugal.

Back Ronaldo at 5/1 to score

Ronaldo scored a play-off hat-trick to send Portugal to the World Cup © Getty Images

"I don't think I have to show anyone anything," said Ronaldo, who claimed his second Champions League winners' medal last month. "Look at my statistics and my CV - I have nothing to prove. My career has been great so far and I just want that to continue.

"But I believe that one player is not a team. I am here to help the team. I am an additional player and I can make a difference, but I can't carry the team on my back. I want to be champion, but let's take it a step at a time. We are not in the group of favourites, but we are one of the best. For me it pushes me forward to succeed at a tournament. I like challenges and I want to do my best in whatever competition I am in."

Portugal largely owe their presence at the tournament to Ronaldo, after he scored all four goals in their two-legged play-off victory against Sweden.

Though Ronaldo might insist he is not super-human, his Portugal team-mates clearly see things differently for a man who has scored 49 goals for his country and has already eclipsed Eusebio and Luis Figo in the record books.

"Cristiano is a very important player for us," full-back Fabio Coentrao said. "He's the best in the world. He's a super-athlete and he has a tremendous will of helping the national team."

Bruno Alves, the Portugal centre-half, is of a similar opinion. He said: "The best player in the world had to be in the World Cup and he will help the team to achieve our goals. We count with our captain, always."

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Ronaldo, 29, trained in the Arena Fonte Nova on Sunday with light strapping on his left knee, an injury that has hampered his preparations for Brazil.

He will begin his third World Cup tonight having failed to leave his mark in 2006 in Germany and then again in South Africa four years later.

Ronaldo has only managed two goals in 10 World Cup appearances, against Iran and North Korea, with his most famous moment from the tournament still the wink he gave to Portugal's bench after Wayne Rooney's dismissal in Gelsenkirchen following his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho.

Rooney himself last week said Ronaldo is driven by the pursuit of personal glory rather than team success.

Ronaldo has given credence to that particular view by insisting he will put his own fitness above Portugal's needs, but feels he is ready to take his World Cup chance the third time around.

"Obviously I would like to be at 110 per cent, but I am 100 per cent and that is enough to help the national team," Ronaldo said.

"If I'm here it is because I want to play and help the national team. If I feel something, and I am sure I won't feel anything during the game, I will not risk my career.

"I come first, not football."

Cristiano Ronaldo won his second Champions League title after Real Madrid saw off Atletico Madrid in last month's final © Getty Images
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