Cristiano Ronaldo breaks all-time men’s international caps record
Cristiano Ronaldo broke the men’s international appearance record on Thursday by starting Portugal’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein.
The 38-year-old, who was dropped from the Portuguese starting XI during the World Cup in Qatar last year, won a 197th cap for his country.
“Records are my motivation,” Ronaldo told reporters on Wednesday.
“I want to become the most capped player in history. That would make me proud.
“But it doesn’t stop there, I still want to be called up very often.”
Ronaldo made his international debut in 2003 and became the first man to score in five World Cups last year before Portugal lost to Morocco in the quarter-finals.
He is currently playing for Saudi club Al Nassr after an acrimonious end to his second spell at Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s appearance off the bench in the defeat by Morocco equalled the previous mark of 196 caps held by Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa.
He left the pitch in tears following Portugal’s shock 1-0 loss against the North Africans.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner will also be hoping to increase his record tally of 118 international goals as Portugal begin their qualification campaign for next year’s European Championship in Germany.
Since leaving Europe, Ronaldo has scored nine goals in 10 matches for Al Nassr.
He was replaced as the starting striker by Goncalo Ramos during the World Cup, with the Benfica youngster scoring a hat-trick in a last-16 win over Switzerland.
But veteran coach Fernando Santos stepped down following the tournament and new boss Roberto Martinez has immediately put his faith in Ronaldo, who also captains the side.
There were questions over whether his 20-year international career had ended in Qatar as Ronaldo will be 39 by the time Euro 2024 kicks off.
But Martinez, who left his role as Belgium coach after the World Cup, has strongly defended his decision to keep Ronaldo in the fold.
“I do not look at the age,” said Martinez when he announced his first squad last week.
The Spaniard added his squad announcement was the “starting point” for Euro 2024, suggesting Ronaldo is likely to be involved if Portugal qualify for the tournament.
Ronaldo adds the international appearance landmark to an impressive list of individual records.
He is the leading goalscorer in European Championship finals with 14 goals and has netted a record 140 times in the Champions League.
Ronaldo has also finished as the top-scorer in three of Europe’s top five leagues — in England, Spain and Italy.
Portugal will visit Luxembourg in their second Group J qualifier on Sunday.
They have also been drawn alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Slovakia.