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Ronaldo's 'fantastic' halftime speech inspired Portugal, says Soares

theScore logo theScore 11-07-2016
© FRANCISCO LEONG / AFP / Getty

From talismanic leader on the pitch to motivational speaker off it, Cristiano Ronaldo wore each hat with aplomb during Sunday's Euro 2016 final.

Ronaldo was forced to leave the match against France in the 25th minute with a knee injury, the Portuguese captain stretchered off in tears. But instead of sulk, right-back Cedric Soares said the ailing superstar delivered a rousing halftime speech that inspired the Selecao to victory.

"It was a very tough moment," Soares told ESPN FC's Miguel Delaney. "I remember, for me and the team, everybody was a little bit in shock I think.

"In halftime, Cristiano had fantastic words for us. He gave us a lot of confidence and said, 'Listen people, I'm sure we will win, so stay together and fight for it.'

"It was really unbelievable. I think all the team had a fantastic attitude. And we showed tonight when you fight as one you are much much stronger."

Portugal, never before the victor at a major international tournament, secured a 1-0 triumph over a heavily favoured France side by virtue of Eder's long-range screamer in the 109th minute. The striker, often the subject of scorn, came off the bench to net the telling tally in a true team effort.

Asked if Ronaldo was dejected after sustaining his injury - which would have been understandable - Soares' answer belied all of the conventional narratives about the 31-year-old scoring machine.

"No, he was fantastic. His attitude was unbelievable," Soares said. "Always he helped a lot our teammates, he always had a lot of motivational words and all the team of course reacted to them, so it was very good."

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