To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Rio Ferdinand called out by fans for bold claim about Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Euro 2024

Rio Ferdinand called out by fans for bold claim about Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Euro 2024

The former England international was asked if Portugal are a better team with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench.

Rio Ferdinand's response to being asked if Portugal are a better team with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench has sparked plenty of debate ahead of their Euro 2024 opener.

Portugal made light work of their qualification campaign, winning all ten of their matches in a group containing Bosnia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Slovakia.

As a result, Roberto Martinez's side became the eighth national side to qualify for a European Championship with a 100 per cent record.

It was a flawless journey to this summer's tournament in Germany and as expected, their all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo played a key role in qualification, scoring 10 goals.

That tally takes him to a remarkable total of 128 in 206 games for his country.

Ahead of Portugal's opening group game against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, pundits Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Ally McCoist brought up Ronaldo in discussion.

The trio took part in the 'Agree To Disagree' format on TNT Sports' official YouTube channel, where they argued over the biggest talking points of the European Championship.

And one of the questions was: "Are Portugal a better team with Ronaldo on the bench?"

Rangers legend McCoist agreed with the point. "It's a bit of a statement I've made there, one of the greatest players of all time but I'm only going back to what I saw at the World Cup," he said.

"The new coach has brought him back in, and I haven't seen enough of them. But having watched him in Qatar, at that particular time, they were a better team with him on the bench."

Ferdinand disagreed with McCoist, saying: "You know in qualifiers, he scored 10 goals in 12 games."

The former Manchester United defender added: "If you look at just that World Cup, then I might side with you. But if you look at the qualification process, without him, they don't qualify. So I'll have to disagree."

Here's how fans on social media reacted to Ferdinand's response.

One said: "Remove his goals from those games and Portugal win the group by 4 points and end on +24 goal difference."

A second wrote: "They scored 36 goals while conceding 2…. Stop," while another commented: "They were 10-0 with a +34 goal differential."

A fourth said: "I swear they had the easiest qualifying group in history, wasn’t a single good team there."

A fifth added: "They got an absolute joke of a qualifying group."

Portugal manager Roberto Martinez has lavished praise on Ronaldo ahead of this summer's tournament in Germany.

Speaking to UEFA, he said: "There are not many players who have achieved what he's achieved. He is an example in many ways. To be the only player to reach more than 200 games for your country – that's something that is not going to be achieved easily.

"What surprised me about Cristiano is that he always defies his age. After every session, the technical staff and I will be amazed that a player who's achieved everything, who could have the choice of what effort he puts in in training, is driven by winning, is obsessed by being the best, is obsessed about that perfection that he wants to achieve in his career. That's contagious.

"Young players, when they come to the national team, are seeing someone who is a person, player or idol that they've been looking up to. His behaviour is beyond belief, and that's something that we need to treasure in Portugal."

Image credit: Getty
Image credit: Getty

He added: "If we can have players like Pepe, like Ronaldo, setting that example, passing [on] that example, they're going to make us better for the next generations to come. That's what Cristiano brings. He's a winner, and he's unique in the way that he sees the game."

Featured Image Credit: TNT Sports/YouTube - Getty Images

Topics: Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand, Euro 2024