After Messi Hints At Retirement, Ronaldo Hints At Playing Forever

It sounds like Ronaldo is going to break the 200-cap barrier.

Over the weekend, Lionel Messi made headlines by hinting at his international retirement following the World Cup.

When the yin speaks then the yang must respond.

On Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo addressed the press ahead of Portugal's decisive World Cup playoff against North Macedonia, and Ronaldo also made headlines by hinting at an international career that could go on forever and ever.

"I'm starting to be asked the same question," Ronaldo declared when asked if this would be his final World Cup. "The one who is going to decide my future is me, nobody else. If I feel like playing more, I'll play; if I don't feel like playing more, I won't. I'll decide, period."

The 37-year-old went on to say that he feels "good, as usual," that he always considers himself favorite "whether at home or away" and that "there is no World Cup without Portugal."

Accordingly, Tuesday's match is a "matter of life and death" for Ronaldo and his teammates.

"We're playing North Macedonia and of course people think it's going to be an easier opponent," Ronaldo said. "From my point of view, it's going to be an extremely tough game because if the Macedonians are here it's because they deserve to be. North Macedonia are a very organized team, but if Portugal are at their best, they beat any team in the world.

"They have surprised in many games but I believe that tomorrow they will not surprise us. Portugal will be better and we will go to the World Cup." 

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Ronaldo is already the leading men's international goalscorer of all time with 115 to his name, and he's only 10 appearances away from matching Soh Chin Ann's recognized FIFA men's record of 195 caps with Malaysia. 

If Portugal qualifies, he could get extremely close to that mark this year with Nations League matches in June/September followed by the finals in November. 

Ronaldo has played in four World Cups, beginning with the 2006 event in Germany where Portugal finished fourth while winning four games. Ronaldo's Portugal has only won a single game at each of the three tournaments since, resulting in last-16 eliminations in 2010 and 2018 and a group stage exit in 2014.

Portugal entered those last three tournaments ranked in the world's top five, so Ronaldo really hasn't experienced much joy in this competition. He scored a legendary hat trick against Spain in the 2018 group stage but has surprisingly never scored in the knockout rounds.

He'll be desperate to make his mark in Qatar, but there's always the 2026 event in North America when Ronaldo will be 41 and playing for Real Madrid.