Time's running out for Portugal hitman

FALLING SHORT IN ONE AREA: Despite his many personal awards and medals with his clubs, Ronaldo has yet to bag an international title for his country. At 31, this may be his last European Championship.


    May 26, 2016

    Time's running out for Portugal hitman


    FOR a player who has won almost everything on an individual and collective level, the one honour that agonisingly evades Cristiano Ronaldo is an international trophy with Portugal.

    Euro 2016 will be his fourth and, at 31, possibly last European Championship finals.

    The previous three have all promised much only to end in varying degrees of disappointment for the three-time World Player of the Year. There have also been tears and torment.

    In 2004, Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal reached the final on home soil before suffering a devastating defeat to shock winners Greece.

    Four years later, he looked set to make amends.

    He was at the prime of his career having led Manchester United to the Champions League a month before arriving in Austria and Switzerland.

    Yet, distracted by protracted rumours about his switch from United to Real Madrid - that would come about only a year later - he found the net just once as after an impressive group stage, Portugal bowed out to Germany in the quarter-finals.

    Euro 2012 will arguably haunt him the most.

    Ronaldo came into the tournament on the back of a record-breaking 60-goal season with Madrid as they ended the dominance of Barcelona to win La Liga.

    His double against the Netherlands led Portugal out of the cliched group of death that also included Germany.

    Ronaldo struck the winner against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals. But he watched on in anguish as Portugal again fell short by the finest of margins against a Spain side replete with Barca players who exacted revenge on penalties in the semi-finals.

    As well the grand prize, there are also individual accolades on offer that will entice a record hoarder like Ronaldo.

    He can become the first man to score in four European finals and is just three goals from Michel Platini's record of nine.

    Both targets look eminently achievable in a group containing tournament debutants Iceland, Hungary and Austria.

    The chance to deliver a telling blow in his eternal battle with Lionel Messi for another Ballon d'Or is also at stake.

    Yet, after the millions earned, league titles and Champions League crowns won in Manchester and Madrid, the real goal must finally be delivering for his country.

    If he is ever to win the Euros, Paris on July 10 is likely to be the last call.