- Quaresma scored ninth international goal in 66th appearance
- *"This is a great team with a fantastic spirit" *
- Winger speaks about his friendship with Cristiano Ronaldo
*By Marco Monteiro with Portugal
Insanely talented and equally temperamental, Ricardo Quaresma has experienced emphatic highs but also deep lows with Portugal’s national team. The European champions' opening match against Mexico at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 produced a familiar mix of bitter-sweet, although on the whole it was a good night for the tattooed genius with the *trivela *touch.
"Happy to have scored but sad about the result,” were Quaresma’s first post-match words to FIFA.com. "We had enough chances to win the game,” he said with a certain amount of irritation in his voice.
On the night of his 66 international cap with Portugal - gathered over almost two decades of appearances - the winger scored the ninth goal of his international duty.
"You always have to decide really quickly,” he said of the opener. "It was a grand pass from Cris (Cristiano Ronaldo) and all I had to do was practically lean into it.”
This modest assessment undersold the goal. True, Ronaldo’s pass was masterful - a ball slipped into a space no-one was watching to set up Quaresma for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. But there was still work to do. The Besiktas star did it with such ease, grimacing as he pretended to shoot, then feinting, sending Ochoa whistling by. Mexico's No1 was already cursing the sky, his eyes shut, before Quaresma had even finished flicking the ball into the net.
It is uncanny to hear Quaresma always refer to Ronaldo as ‘Cris'. The Lisbon born winger has known the reigning Best FIFA Men's Player for so long he doesn’t even notice the affectation. "It’s a friendship of so many years,” he says.
Quaresma and the Portugal captain matured alongside one another at Sporting’s youth academy, before the then 19-year old Ricardo - one-and-a-half year's Ronaldo’s senior - set off for Barcelona in the same summer Cristiano departed for Manchester United. "Cris will be a friend for life,” he said. "My desire is that he continues to be the best in the world and that we can give deliver him more titles."
With over 19 years of experience in, and admittedly out, of the national team, Quaresma is well placed to reflect on what has come before, and the promise of tomorrow. "Every *Seleção *has had its story and its moment." he said.
"For this team. We have a lot of youngsters with a lot of talent and quality. We also have experienced, talented players who have played football around the world. This is a great team. We have a fantastic team spirit and that is what is making us win games."
Quaresma was also grateful to coach Fernando Santos for handing him a start against Mexico ahead of an impressive bench of in-form players, all eager to contribute to the European champions' story.
"I feel real good," said the winger. "He’s the coach that has given me the most confidence in all my time with the Seleção. I’m very thankful for the opportunities that Santos has given me and I always try to take full advantage of them."