Twenty years later, the national team will play without the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo

Paris was hot, the summer warmed up and the tremors in the stadium warmed it up. With his knee tightened by the bandages that prevented him from stretching his leg, an unusual Cristiano was restless in front of the Portugal bench, certainly going against the medical advice after the blow to the worst joint for a footballer: he screamed, shook his arms, pushing Fernando Santos, whistling and gesturing directions to the field. The nervous final of the 2016 European Championship will always be made more special by the memory of the injured captain, but not down, eagerly helping in any way he could until the two most precious hours of Portuguese football were consecrated by the referee’s last whistle.

Party at the Stade de France, the cup belonged to the Portuguese in the beards of the French and Ronaldo, ecstatic with euphoria, closed his eyes and screamed at the sky, arms wide open in contemplation when a first body squeezed him in an embrace. He was not a player, the coach, an element of the staff technician, nor an anonymous wardrobe. It was Ricardo Regufe, who dropped to the ground with him.

Within the 30 or so seconds of that warm support, about 15 years of relationship fit, of such closeness that the selection became, little by little, more a room for the friendship between the footballer and his personal assistant than a place where an official made the bridge between the team and the sports brand that sponsored it. Thus entered the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) the promoter of that Parisian embrace that Liechtenstein will be the first opponent, this Thursday and in more than two decades, not to see him cohabit in the national team entourage. Seeing “up close” what happened in the life of the team during that period is an understatement. written by himself, a few days ago, when he announced the end of a public connection, visible to all, but little explained to the outside over the years.

Ricardo Regufe has seen, witnessed and been in all competitions with Portugal since the home European, where the Greeks were spoilsports. One, two years earlier, while António Oliveira was in charge, the northerner ‘joined’ the team as the only person responsible for the connection between the FPF and Nike, where he was “Sports Marketing Manager Football Portugal”. The pompous title of the job lives on your LinkedIn, the reality of the role is described in Express Tribune for those who shared days with him in the national team: ensuring that the federation and Nike fulfilled their “contractual obligations”, managing brand activities that required the presence of players (photo shoots, for example), coordinating everything related to equipment, training material or football boots.


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