Cristiano Ronaldo was named to the first Portugal squad for the Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg on Friday by new coach Roberto Martinez.
The Spanish coach emphasized that the 38-year-old “is very vital for the team” during a press conference where he presented his starting lineup of 26 players.
“I do not look at the age,” said Martinez.
Portugal will face Liechtenstein on March 23 in Lisbon before travelling to Luxembourg on March 26.
Martinez said his first squad “is important because it is the starting point” for Euro 2024.
Ronaldo, whose international career began in August 2003 in a friendly against Kazakhstan, holds the world record for men’s international goals with 118.
History suggests that, if he returns to the starting line-up, he will boost his total in the next two matches, at least against Luxembourg.
Portugal have played Liechtenstein seven times, winning six and drawing one, a World Cup qualifier in 2004 which Ronaldo started but did not finish. They have outscored Liechtenstein 35-3 but Ronaldo has never scored against the Principality.
Portugal have faced Luxembourg 19 times, winning 17 and losing just one, outscoring them 59-8. Ronaldo has hit nine of those, his most against any international team.
Ronaldo has represented Portugal in every international competition since Euro 2004, collecting a European championship winners’ medal in 2016.
In Qatar last year, he got off to a good start in his quest to add a World Cup medal, becoming the first player to score in five tournaments when he converted a penalty in a victory over Ghana.
Yet Portugal destroyed Switzerland in the match against them in the round of 16, and he was not included in the starting lineup.
He started on the bench for Portugal’s quarterfinal match against Morocco and left the competition in tears.
Goalkeepers include Rui Patricio (Roma/ITA), Jose Sa (Wolves/ENG), and Diogo Costa (Porto).
Defenders: Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain/ENG), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City/ENG), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City/ENG), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Goncalo Inacio (Sporting Lisbon), Diogo Leite (Union Berlin/GER), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund/GER).
João, a midfielder