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Elite champion Cristiano Ronaldo will have regrets over Euro 2016 despite Portugal’s victory

Cristiano Ronaldo’s elite mentality is not to be underestimated.

Portugal may have won Euro 2016, and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner may have received a fair share of the credit for his undeniably key contribution, but the tournament didn’t adhere perfectly to his script.

Ronaldo took a knock to his knee in the eighth minute of the final in France and was unable to play through the discomfort, sitting down on the turf a total of three times before he left the pitch on a stretcher in the 25th minute.

Eder scored the game’s only goal in extra time and Ronaldo celebrated jubilantly with his team-mates after a brief stint as Fernando Santos’ assistant – but there would have been some part of him, the irrepressible champion, who would have lamented how the victory came about.

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The premature exit of Portugal’s captain in the Euro 2016 final

The premature exit of Portugal’s captain in the Euro 2016 final

This is not a criticism of the five-time Champions League winner, quite the opposite.

One of the reasons the 36-year-old has carved out a career that has put him among the greatest players of all time is his psychological superiority – the belief he has in his own ability and the desire to strive for constant improvement is his unique selling point.

Ask anyone at Man United around the time of his first metamorphosis and they’ll tell you he was the first to arrive at training and the last to leave.

And that’s why Portugal’s should be concerned ahead of Euro 2020, because whereas the majority of players would consider international tournament success ticked off their bucket list after 2016 (let’s not forget he also won the Nations League), Ronaldo will want to win the competition as the final’s matchwinner.

This is the thought process of athletes who appear vaguely superhuman, as Ronaldo does at his best.

It is not selfishness or arrogance, it is simply the pursuit of perfection.

Only the top 0.001% enjoy moments like this while craving more

Only the top 0.001% enjoy moments like this while craving more

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While five more years in the legs may put him at a disadvantage compared to 2016, in many ways Ronaldo is in a stronger position to acquire continental glory this time around.

It sounds illogical but Portugal are probably a better team now than they were when they beat France in Didier Deschamps’ back garden.

The emergence of Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota, Andre Silva, Joao Felix and Bruno Fernandes – seven players who watched Euro 2016 from their armchairs – has given Portugal considerable depth.

Even with a wealth of firepower, Ronaldo remains the star of the show having increased his strike rate for his country dramatically since turning 30.

His overall record of 103 goals in 173 international is remarkable enough already – Iranian Ali Daei is the only player with more international goals – but his threat is best realised when you know 78 of those goals have come in his last 94 caps.

It’s no wonder Ronaldo is proving a popular choice among Dream Team Euros gaffers.

39.5% of bosses have selected him despite a tough draw for Portugal alongside France, Germany and Hungary in the Group of Death.

At £7.0m only Kylian Mbappe is more expensive but a champion demands a champion’s price.