LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo became the most-capped player in men’s international football on Thursday.
Ronaldo started in Portugal’s European qualifier against Liechtenstein to make his 197th appearance with the national team, breaking a tie with Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa.
Ronaldo had tied Al-Mutawa with 196 caps after coming off the bench in Portugal’s loss to Morocco in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Qatar last year.
The 38-year-old Ronaldo had become Europe’s most-capped player in 2021 after surpassing Sergio Ramos’ mark of 180 appearances with Spain.
Ronaldo, who is also the all-time scoring leader in men’s football with 118 goals, is back with Portugal’s national team after a disappointing World Cup in which he was benched in the knockout rounds and left the field in tears after the loss to Morocco.
He said his return to the national team was in doubt after the World Cup, but he eventually decided it was not time “to throw in the towel.”
New Portugal coach Roberto Mart?nez said he still counts on Ronaldo and made the forward one of his captains entering qualifying for the 2024 European Championship.
Portugal’s qualifying group also includes Luxembourg, Iceland, Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Their next match is at Luxembourg on Sunday. The top two nations from each of the 10 groups qualify for the final tournament in Germany.