'I made a joke with Bruno!' Cristiano Ronaldo quips frosty conversation with Portugal teammates are friendly jokes
Cristiano Ronaldo is motivated by the millions of people who look up to him ahead of the World Cup, as he dismissed criticism of his inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan.
The conversation with Morgan, broadcast on TalkTV, aired in full last week, with Ronaldo seemingly doing his utmost to bring his second spell at Manchester United to an end.
Among a wide range of topics, Ronaldo discussed how he felt "betrayed" by the club and how he did not respect manager Erik ten Hag – he even aimed a swipe at former team-mate Wayne Rooney.
Ronaldo is seemingly heading for a January exit, though for now his focus is on leading Portugal in Qatar. Their campaign in the gulf nation starts on Thursday against Ghana.
Iker Casillas came to his old Real Madrid club-mate's defence on Sunday, telling Marca he would always like to have the 37-year-old on his team and that he is a contender to win the Golden Boot in Qatar, suggesting critics too easily forget Ronaldo's achievements.
In a press conference at Portugal's training base on Monday, Ronaldo said: "I agree with Casillas and I hope to demonstrate that we are eliminating that small range of criticism.
"There are millions of people who like me. That is what motivates me. There is no money to pay for that. The joy of the children.
"Timing is always timing. From your side it is easy to look at how we can choose timings. Sometimes you write truths, sometimes you write lies.
"I don't have to worry what others think. I talk when I want to. Staff, players, everyone knows me, they know what I think, they've known me since I was 11, they won't be influenced by what [the critics] say."
Boas energias, boas sensações, o mesmo empenho e a mesma concentração de que colocamos em cada desafio. Foco! Vontade! Crença! Seja onde for, Portugal, sempre! pic.twitter.com/tWgeKBRG3J— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) November 20, 2022
Ronaldo, who is sure his interview will not derail Portugal's chances of success, also hit out at the media for asking his national team-mates to discuss his situation, after Ruben Neves' press conference on Sunday was dominated by the topic.
"Please, don't ask players about me. Ask about the World Cup, I'm bulletproof, iron clad," he said.
"I have no doubt that this recent episode, that interview, and other episodes with other players that happen sometimes, can sometimes shake the player but won't shake the team.
"Everyone really wants this competition, everyone wants to play, which is something I like to see, the ambition is very high."
Ronaldo also explained that frosty exchanges with Bruno Fernandes and Joao Cancelo were simply jokes.
"I made a joke with Bruno, with whom I have an excellent relationship," Ronaldo added.
"His flight was delayed and I asked if he had come by boat. It was a joke, as it was with Joao Cancelo."