The idea of scoring at the World Cup finals must rank very high among football aspirations. Even while many players have represented their nation at numerous World Cup finals, only a small number have actually competed in and scored in four different tournaments. With his second-half penalty against Ghana on this Thursday, Cristiano Ronaldo made history by becoming the first player to compete in and score in five different editions of the men's World Cup. A record that has persisted for more than 50 years.
The majority of players don't have international careers that are long enough to provide them a chance to play a major role in four or five World Cups. There are several causes for this, including injury, a decline in performance, or their team's failure to advance. Only five players Andrés Guardado of Mexico, who could play in either of the next two matches against Argentina or Saudi Arabia have appeared in at least one match in each of the last five World Cup finals.
To support him and the Portugal squad he has coached for a generation, supporters flocked to Stadium 974. though mainly him. Ronaldo's No. 7 jersey may be the most widely worn in soccer, and on Thursday, a large portion of that laundry appeared to have gathered inside a makeshift stadium erected between a port and the road leading to Doha's international airport.
Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo was the centre of the game and the ball. And Ronaldo, of course, did the honours when the scoreless game required an uncorking halfway through the second half. After a barrage of late goals, Portugal eventually won 3-2 thanks to his penalty kick just after the hour mark.
When it was over, Ronaldo was there, grinning and shaking hands before continuing on to wherever this tournament would lead him and Portugal.