Ronaldo warning sent to Portugal rivals with champions out to defend Euros title
Cristiano Ronaldo is “still a beast” and has lost none of his ability even at this late stage of his career, according to Portugal teammate Jose Fonte.
Ronaldo is now 36 but enjoyed another brilliant club season with Juventus, finishing as the top scorer in Serie A and netting a total of 36 times in all competitions.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward appears unaffected by his advanced years as he bids to lead his country to another Euros triumph.
And Fonte has warned Portugal’s rivals they can expect nothing less than “greatness” from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner throughout the tournament.
The former Southampton stalwart told talkSPORT : “He’s our leader, our captain. As usual he’s preparing in the best way. He’s one of the best professionals around.
“The numbers speak for themselves. He’s still going, he’s still a beast, so expect nothing else but greatness.”
Ronaldo contributed three goals and three assists as Portugal won Euro 2016, although he was forced off in the first half of the final after a challenge by France playmaker Dimitri Payet.
Portugal will clash with Les Bleus once again this summer, with the two nations drawn in Group F – dubbed the ‘group of death’ – alongside Germany and Hungary.
Should Portugal finish second in the group, they will travel to Wembley to face England in the last 16, provided the Three Lions top Group D.
But Fonte – who helped Lille win Ligue 1 this season – is relishing the prospect of a clash with Gareth Southgate’s side.
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“It would be great,” said the centre-back. “On a personal level I’d love to play against England.
“I have fond memories from my time playing in the Premier League so what a great challenge it would be as England has a great squad as well.”
Portugal travel to Hungary for their first group-stage game on Tuesday, and Fonte stressed the importance of beginning their campaign with three points.
He added: “We want to start well, we want to win games. Those are the fixtures that we have and we have to prepare in the best way that we can so we can attack these games and get what we want.
“I think it’s amazing. There are fantastic games to come, they are the games that everybody wants to play. If you want to win the title you’ve got to go through everybody.”
Portugal face Germany at the Allianz Arena in their second game before wrapping up Group F by taking on World Champions France in Hungary’s Puskas Arena.