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Cristiano Ronaldo: Portugal deserve Euro 2016 success

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Portugal's victorious Euro 2016 squad leave their training base in Marcoussis before heading home.

Cristiano Ronaldo said Portugal deserved to win Euro 2016 "after many years of sacrifice" following their victory over host nation France in the final on Sunday.

The Portugal skipper suffered a nightmare start when he was forced off with a knee injury in the first half, but watched on as his team-mates secured a 1-0 victory after extra time at the Stade de France to earn their first major tournament trophy.

"No one believed in us," Ronaldo said. "I had already won everything with clubs. I lacked something with the national team. Portugal have deserved this after many years of sacrifice.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (c) lifts the European Championship trophy
Image: Portugal won one game inside 90 minutes at Euro 2016, their semi-final against Wales
Portugal win Euro 2016
Portugal win Euro 2016

Eder strike hands Portugal first-ever major tournament win

"It was not the final I wanted, but I am very happy. It is a trophy for all the Portuguese, for all immigrants, all the people who believed in us, so I am very happy and very proud."

Ronaldo said he found it impossible to return after suffering an injury in a challenge by France midfielder Dimitri Payet.

He added: "I tried to come back. My knee was swelling up and I couldn't. There was too much pain."

Cristiano Ronaldo tried to carry on in the Euro 2016 final with his left knee heavily strapped but eventually was forced off
Image: Ronaldo tried to carry on with his left knee heavily strapped but eventually was forced off

Match-winner Eder struck in the 109th minute after coming on as a second-half substitute, and Ronaldo said he had a feeling the former Swansea forward would make the difference.

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He said: "I've been in football a long time. I have a lot of feelings. I felt that he was the one who was going to score."

Eder of Portugal scores
Image: Eder scored the winning goal in the final against France in extra time

Pepe, who overcame a thigh injury to start alongside Jose Fonte in defence, said Ronaldo's misfortune inspired the team to glory.

"It was tough to lose our main man, the man who could at any moment score a goal," Pepe said.

"He could make the difference, but we were warriors on the pitch. We said we would win it for him and we managed to do that."

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July
Image: Portugal coach Fernando Santos (left) guided his nation to their first major tournament but injured Ronaldo took to the touchline too

Portugal coach Fernando Santos also paid tribute to his captain, saying: "Our skipper put in an immense effort; he has amazing team spirit.

"With him being there in the locker room and on the bench it was very important to us, to reach the players and motivate them.

"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."

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