Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes reveals how tearful Cristiano Ronaldo inspired him after Euro 2004 heartbreak
BRUNO FERNANDES has revealed watching Cristiano Ronaldo in floods of tears after losing the Euro 2004 final inspired him to push himself to the limit to make it as a professional.
The Manchester United star goes into this summer's tournament as one of the players to watch after his red-hot 18 months at Old Trafford.
But Fernandes, 26, has piled praise on international team-mate Ronaldo for playing a huge role in forging his footballing career.
Aged just nine, the ex-Sporting Lisbon midfielder was left heartbroken as Portugal – the hosts of the 2004 European Championship – were shocked by 80/1 outsiders Greece in the final.
But seeing Ronaldo bounce back from his teenage tears to become one of the greatest footballers of all time inspired Fernandes.
Fernandes told the Man Utd website: “Growing up, everyone knows Cristiano was my favourite player.
“When Cristiano began to take his first steps in the national team, it was in the Euros in our home country [Euro 2004], so I was nine years old.
"That year stays with everyone because we lost the final in Portugal.
"We saw him crying after the final, he was a young boy who was starting to shine and from there I started to watch him."
Fernandes continued by explaining he drew mental inspiration from Ronaldo, rather than strictly technical.
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The United ace said: "It wasn’t because [Ronaldo] plays in my position because that wasn’t the case.
"It was the way he worked every day, the mentality he had, the capacity he had to give 100 per cent in every game at a high level.
"For me it was like a motivation, like you always have to do better.
"He was scoring goals every game, but game after game he was still trying to improve, get better.
“My mentality comes a little bit from understanding what sort of player you want to be.
"OK, you will have bad games for sure, everyone has – Cristiano has had bad games, 100 per cent – but the point is, coming back from a bad game.
"The mentality to do better day after day is really important for me.
"I’m improving a lot because of this, and that was my biggest motivation."
Fernandes was yet to earn his first Portugal cap when the nation were surprise winners of Euro 2016.
But the Man Utd star revealed watching them lift the trophy helped push him to greatness.
Fernandes added: “There are a lot of matches that have inspired me.
”But I think, for me, as a Portuguese, the final of the 2016 Euros is an inspiration for every kid, every player…
"At that moment, we’d never won anything in the national team.
"I’m really proud of that and it’s one of the games I remember more."
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