Cristiano Ronaldo has shrugged off Wayne Rooney's comments that he hopes Portugal do not qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
The Manchester United striker claimed yesterday "it would be nice" if Portugal, who have knocked England out of the past two major tournaments, failed to secure their place in next year's finals. However, Ronaldo believes his former team-mate was simply enjoying a joke at his expense.
"Rooney knows that he doesn't have good memories of Portugal," said Ronaldo. "He played against us several times and never won. He said it in jest, I don't believe he said it because he doesn't like us."
Portugal's hopes of booking their ticket to South Africa are very much in the balance. Carlos Queiroz's team are currently third in Group One, five points behind leaders Denmark and two adrift of Sweden.
Anything but maximum points against Hungary and Malta would spell the end of Portugal's FIFA World Cup dream but Ronaldo is confident that, if they do make it, they will give a better account of themselves in the finals. "We haven't done well in qualifying but I am sure that if Portugal qualify it will be different. There will be more time for us to get to know each other. If we go to the World Cup we will do much better."
It is a different story for Ronaldo in his club side, where he has scored nine goals in seven competitive matches, and the 24-year-old has no regrets about leaving United for Real Madrid.
"Whoever doesn't know Real Madrid cannot imagine what this is like. I want to spend my whole life at this club," Ronaldo said. "I'm living a fairytale. Real Madrid is one big family. The oldest guys in the dressing room - Raul, Guti and (Iker) Casillas - have really helped me to settle in as quickly as possible. They're fantastic."