Cristiano Ronaldo is “a big failure of the World Cup” and has “damaged his legacy”, former Germany international Lothar Matthaus claims.
Ronaldo has endured a turbulent six weeks at club and international level, having been released from Manchester United prior to the start of the tournament in Qatar following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
After scoring in the opening game against Ghana, Ronaldo appeared furious when withdrawn during the final group-stage match against South Korea and was subsequently dropped to the bench for the following two matches in the knockout stage.
He would not be missed against Switzerland, Goncalo Ramos scoring a hat-trick as his replacement, then Ronaldo came off the bench in a fruitless effort to stave off defeat to Morocco.
With 37-year-old Ronaldo now on the hunt for a new club, German World Cup great Matthaus has conceded he is unsure who will make a move for his services, delivering a damning assessment of the five-time Ballon D’Or winner.
“With his ego trips, Ronaldo has damaged the team and himself,” Matthaus told newspaper Bild.
“There is no doubt that he was a great player and an absolutely lethal finisher. But now he has damaged his legacy.
“I find it hard to think that he can find a place in a team. I kind of feel sorry for Ronaldo.
1 – Lionel Messi yesterday became the first ever South American player to score in both a World Cup and European Cup/Champions League final. Greatest.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
While Ronaldo and Portugal suffered a quarter-final exit, the fortunes of Lionel Messi and Argentina were vastly different – as they celebrated glory after a dramatic penalty shoot-out triumph against France in Sunday’s final.
That affirmed Messi as the “player of the millennium” in the eyes of 1990 World Cup winner Matthaus, who had a further jibe for Ronaldo.
“Ronaldo is of course a big failure of the World Cup, the opposite of Messi,” he said.
“[Messi is] the absolute winner. He deserves it because he has given me and all football fans great joy with his qualities and the way he plays over 17-18 years.
“For me, Messi is the player of the millennium.”