Bento expects Ronaldo focus
As he prepares to win his 100th cap for Portugal against Northern Ireland on Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo has been told to play his normal game by coach Paulo Bento, who is not expecting "anything special" from one of the world's best.
Ronaldo, 27, is set to become only the third Portuguese to reach the century of caps after Luis Figo and Fernando Couto, and is certain to start at the Dragao Stadium after recovering from a shoulder injury.
The forward has been in irresistible form this season, with 14 goals in 11 games for Real Madrid so far, but Bento is expecting him to do his job for the team above everything else.
"We all know Cristiano had an injury coming to us from the Spanish championship, but he is fit to play,'' he said. "I do not expect anything different from him because of the fact that he is getting his 100th cap.
"I know that is a figure very few players will reach but I don't foresee anything special because of that reason. What I expect from him is to integrate into the structure we have got and to show all of his ability and quality in the match.''
Nevertheless, a match against a side 117th in the FIFA rankings offers Ronaldo a chance to shine and, as he neared his century of caps, a former teacher recalled his early steps in the game.
"He took his chances and always had the desire to learn and go further," his first coach, Madeira primary school teacher Francisco Afonso, was quoted as saying by Portuguese daily o Jogo. "Curiously, he started playing as a centre-back. But, because he wanted to organise everything his way, he eventually went up field and became a forward."
Former Sporting coach Laszlo Boloni, who gave Ronaldo his start at the club, also claimed the Madrid star was one of the most important people in Portugal's history.
"I was asked how could I say that Ronaldo was going to be better than Eusebio after he had played just five matches," he told o Jogo. "I answered that Cristiano was exceptional, better than Eusebio and [Fado singer] Amalia, who are part of Portugal's heritage."