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“One of the happiest moments of my career,” Ronaldo

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One of the happiest moments of my career” for Cristiano Ronaldo was a “cruel” night for Didier Deschamps. For Portugal coach Fernando Santos, there were only “incredible emotions”.

I’m so happy. This is something I have wanted for a long time now, ever since 2004. The Portuguese people deserve this, our players deserve this. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well for me but I’ve always believed in these players. They have quality and ability.
This is one of the happiest moments of my career. I’ve always said I wanted to win a trophy with the national team and make history. I’d like to thank my team-mates, our coach, our wider team at this EURO, and the Portuguese people cheering us on. This is a unique moment for me. It’s unforgettable.

Fernando Santos, Portugal coach

I’ve always told the players we’ve got great talent, but we need to fight more than our opponents, run more than them and be more focused than them. We have an amazing group. They’ve always believed me when I told them we could win this. Wherever we’ve gone there have always been Portuguese fans. This lifted our souls. It’s hard to describe the players’ emotions – it’s incredible.

Our skipper put in an immense effort, he has amazing team spirit. Twice he tried to get back on the pitch but him being there in the dressing room and on the bench was very important for us. He believed – just like myself – that tonight was our night. When you lose the best player in the world [Ronaldo], you know you have to change things. I’d set up a strategy around him.

When [Éder] came on, he told me he’d score. The ugly duckling scored! Now he’s the beautiful swan!

Éder, Portugal match winner

It was an amazing moment. We fought with immense strength, we were amazing. I think we deserve this title due to the work all the players and staff put in. Portugal have been wanting this title for so long, so it’s fantastic. [Before extra time, Cristiano Ronaldo] told me I would score the winning goal. He gave me strength and positive energy.

Pepe, man of the match

This was tough as we lost our main man and we had all our hopes on him because he can score a goal at any moment. When he couldn’t go on, I tried to tell our team-mates that we had to win it for him. The coach set us up very well and the subs came on at the right time too. We poured blood, sweat and tears into this. We’ve written a brilliant page in the book of Portuguese football history.

Didier Deschamps, France coach

We threw away a great chance to be European champions. Of course the overriding emotion is huge disappointment. It’s cruel to lose the final like that. I have to congratulate Portugal. Clearly we had our opportunities and we weren’t clinical enough. We weren’t cool-headed enough, but I can’t hold anything against my players. They gave everything tonight. I don’t think we played with the brakes on by any means.
We’d have loved to win this trophy for the fans. There are positives, but it’s hard to see them at the moment. Everything we’ve experienced over the past few weeks and months has been positive so I’m just disappointed we couldn’t win this trophy for the millions of fans. I’m not going to think about myself tonight. I’ll need some time to digest this, just like the players.

Antoine Griezmann, adidas Golden Boot winner

It’s cruel and magnificent at the same time. We’ve lived through some extraordinary moments, and the saddest moments as well. We have to learn. But tonight we gave it our all and we have no regrets. I’m proud of the squad, proud of everybody. Now we have to come back stronger.
Maybe later I can feel proud, but for now it’s about the group. I’m very disappointed for my team-mates. I really wanted to offer them this trophy, but I couldn’t score and I’m disappointed.

Hugo Lloris, France captain

At the end it was about details. We created lots more chances than them. We were lacking some accuracy at the last moment. That’s part of football. We need to congratulate Portugal as they were very strong mentally throughout the tournament. For us it was a very positive experience. We are all very disappointed and upset not to win this trophy. We can still build on what we have for future years.

Tongai Mwenje

Tongai Mwenje is a Senior Editor with Zimbabwe's largest online sports magazine Sportbrief www.sportbrief.co.zw. He has been writing professionally since 2012 and currently writes for technology and sport blogs. He has vast experience in digital marketing, sports reporting and analysis. He is also a Sports and Technology columnist with Financial Gazette Online Sports Column and Technology Magazine respectively.

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