Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Cristiano Ronaldo’s doubters after the Portugal forward became the all-time top goalscorer in men’s international football, backing his former team-mate to continue to flourish on his return to Manchester United.
Ronaldo scored two stunning late headers as Portugal came from behind to beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in a thrilling World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Algarve last night.
The double took the 36-year-old’s goals tally to 111 in 180 games for his country, putting him two clear of Iran legend Ali Daei, who had held the record since 2000.
Portugal’s victory saw them go three points clear of nearest rivals Serbia in Group A, while Stephen Kenny’s Ireland are still yet to pick up a single point and find themselves down in fourth place.
Ferdinand – who played a key role in convincing Ronaldo to snub Manchester City – took to Twitter to give his reaction to Portugal’s dramatic victory on Thursday and blasted those who had been questioning United’s move for the veteran attacker due to his age.
‘Cristiano, 110th and 111th goals last night in another match-winning performance. The record for goals scored at international level for men,’ the ex-United and England defender said in a short video.
‘What hasn’t this man done?! Crazy numbers.
‘And people are still doubting him, man! Can he produce this form in a red shirt for Manchester United now? At this age, 36?
‘Top goalscorer in Serie A last season. I can’t wait to see him in that red shirt. See you soon, bro.’
Ronaldo was booked after removing his shirt celebrating his late winner against the Republic of Ireland, meaning he is suspended for Portugal’s next group match versus Azerbaijan.
The ex-Real Madrid and Juventus star is therefore expected to be released early from international duty so he can begin training with Manchester United again for the first time in 12 years.
‘I forgot. It’s the emotion of the game,’ Ronaldo said when asked about his booking shortly after Portugal’s win.
‘Maybe the coach will give me a hard time, but it doesn’t matter. The important thing was to help the team.
‘I’m sorry, but the emotions speak louder.’
Ronaldo had an early penalty saved before his late heroics but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner insisted he was always confident Portugal could come away from the clash with maximum points.
‘It’s part of the game, it’s part of the business,’ he explained.
‘Sometimes you score, sometimes you make mistakes and that’s just part of the business.
‘But I still believed until the end of the game so I’m so glad to score and to win the game.’
Ronaldo added: ‘I’m so happy, very happy, and not only because I beat the record but for the special moments that we had,’ he told Sky Sports after Portugal’s dramatic win.
‘Two goals at the end of the game, so tough, but I have to appreciate what the team did tonight. We believed until the end.
‘For the supporters, I’m so glad.’