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Inside Cristiano Ronaldo’s rift with ex-Portugal boss who ‘sees him like a son’ despite dropping him in Qatar World Cup

Former national boss revealed how Ronaldo has acted since his sacking

CRISTIANO RONALDO’S ex-Portugal boss has explained his dramatic feud with the legend he still regards as “like a son to me”.

Fernando Santos blames a “misunderstanding” for the striker not speaking to him since being benched amid Portugal’s World Cup woe 11 months ago.

Cristiano Ronaldo has not contacted Fernando Santos after being dropped against Switzerland and Morocco in the World Cup last December


Cristiano Ronaldo has not contacted Fernando Santos after being dropped against Switzerland and Morocco in the World Cup last DecemberCredit: The Times

Ronaldo is now impressing with Saudi club Al-Nassr

Ronaldo is now impressing with Saudi club Al-NassrCredit: Getty
Santos was sacked after a quarter-final exit against Morocco – while in contrast Ronaldo, 38 is now up to 127 goals in 203 games for his country.


Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ron ended 2022 out of Manchester United, before bouncing back with his current fine form for Al-Nassr.

And his testing time late last year included being dropped for Portugal’s last-16 World Cup tie with Switzerland on December 6.

Goncalo Ramos came in to notch a hat-trick in a 6-1 victory, with Ronaldo playing just the final 17 minutes.

That resounding result meant of course Benfica’s Ramos, now on loan with PSG, had to stay in against surprise team Morocco.

But Portugal crashed out 1-0, despite Ronaldo replacing Ruben Neves in the 51st minute.


Ex-Sporting Lisbon boss Santos, 69, has since had a disappointing nine-month stint as Poland boss – ending with his dismissal in September.

And now he has revealed an even unhappier experience – being shut out by Ronaldo for one month longer than that managerial spell.

Santos told A Bola: “We haven’t spoken since I came from Qatar.

“On the day of the game, in the morning, when I went to explain that he wasn’t going to play and why he wasn’t playing, he misunderstood.

“From my side the relationship is the same, and he continues to be like a son to me.


“The day the phone rings he knows I’m always here.”

Santos stressed he still rates Ronaldo “the best in the world”.

But as the ex-Real Madrid and Juventus hero was falling out with United at the same time as his World Cup misery, the ex-Porto and Benfica chief added: “He had a moment in his career that was very difficult.

“In the second half of 2022 he has six months that are terrible. That moment really affected him. He had no rhythm. It was a strategic issue.”



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