Fonte: I’ll never quit Portugal duty

Jose Fonte has stated that he will never retire from Portugal duty. The Southampton centre-back, who turns 33 next month, is the third-oldest member of the squad Fernando Santos selected for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier at home to Latvia on Sunday, after Bruno Alves and Ricardo Quaresma.

“I believe that you should never quit the national team,” said Fonte. "And whenever I’m called up, I’ll be available."

“It’s up to me to be fit, to be professional, and if I’m doing well at my club, playing in a competitive league, I can play for a few more years. I’ll work hard to be at my best because football is for super athletes. Playing against athletes who are 20, 21 or 22, who are at the peak physically, isn’t easy.”

Fonte, who was almost 31 when he made his international debut and helped his nation win UEFA EURO 2016, has revealed he takes pride in providing an example to his younger team-mates. The Portugal squad includes teenager Renato Sanches, 21-year-olds Gelson Martins and Andre Silva, as well as Joao Cancelo, Raphael Guerreiro, Nelson Semedo and Bernardo Silva, who are all 22.

“Us, the more experienced players, always try to demonstrate the right path to follow and show the work that has to be done and the way of being professional,” Fonte explained. “I do this with pleasure, to help my team-mates, because only in this way can we have this togetherness and quality as a team.”

Portugal are second in Group B in European qualifying for Russia 2018, three points behind Switzerland and two above Hungary and Faroe Islands.