Portugal defender Ruben Dias labelled the World Cup the “biggest trophy you can achieve” ahead of his country’s opening game against Ghana.
Fernando Santos’ side are aiming to lift the trophy for the first time ever in Qatar, where Dias is likely to play a leading role.
The Manchester City centre-back has picked up several major honours in the club game, such as two Premier League titles and the Portuguese league crown.
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But claiming international football’s biggest prize remains the ultimate achievement for Dias, who was part of Portugal’s squad four years ago in Russia but didn’t make an appearance due to injury.
“I felt a different perspective because it’s one thing to watch it from the outside, you know how big it is, but then to actually live it and be there, it’s just something else.
“As a player, it’s probably the biggest [trophy] you can achieve. It’s unfair to put it into words, to be honest, the feeling you must have after you’ve done it.”
Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugal’s captain in Qatar, but he has had a tumultuous build-up to the tournament as his Manchester United contract was terminated in the wake of a controversial interview.
The 37-year-old continues to be a key figure for his country, though, and Dias recalls being blown away by the five-time Ballon d’Or winner from their first meeting.
“The first day I met [Ronaldo], actually trained with him, he had just won the Champions League,” Dias said.
“I still remember that day and we were practising in normal practice. And then you just see why he was where he was.
“You know, the way he did everything, every single thing, the detail, the dedication.”
Four years ago, Portugal were knocked out in the last 16 by Uruguay. They have a chance to make amends in Qatar, when they will face the South Americans again in Group H, along with Ghana and South Korea.
Portugal open their World Cup campaign against Ghana on Thursday, before facing Uruguay and South Korea next week.
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