Saturday, August 20, 2011

20 August 2003 - Ronaldo Goes International

On 20 August 2003, winger Cristiano Ronaldo made his first appearance for Portugal in a 1-0 victory over Kazakhstan.

Only 18 years old, he was clearly a star in the making for the national team, having already played 25 times for Portugal's youth teams and scoring 11 goals. And, just ten days before his senior international debut, he completed a high-profile move from Sporting to Manchester United.

The match itself was an inauspicious friendly, with the only goal coming from Portuguese midfielder Simão Sabrosa in the 65th minute. It was a lucky bounce, as Kazakhstan defender Ihor Soloshenko's attempted clearance hit Sabrosa in the chest and deflected into the goal. But Ronaldo became a regular starter for the Selecção, helping them reach the Euro 2004 final and fourth place in the 2006 World Cup.

In 2007, Ronaldo claimed the captain's armband for Portugal, leading them to the Euro 2008 quarterfinals and the 2010 World Cup Round of 16. He currently ranks sixth on the team's all-time appearances list with 82 and fifth on their all-time scoring list with 27 goals.

Since that first appearance, Portugal and Kazakhstan have played twice in Euro qualifiers. Ronaldo scored a goal in each match as Portugal won both times.


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