Manchester City and Portugal defender Ruben Dias has revealed he couldn’t help but be impressed by Cristiano Ronaldo when they first met at Portugal training.
The 25-year-old, who also admitted that nothing could prepare him for the feeling of featuring in his first World Cup, is now starring alongside Ronaldo as the Selecao bid to put the disappointment of the 2018 edition behind them.
Dias had just one cap to his name when he was included in the travelling squad in 2018, but he didn’t made it off the bench after picking up an injury and Portugal fell to Uruguay in the last 16.
As part of a squad rejuvenation, Dias was made a permanent starter for Portugal immediately after that tournament and he heads to Qatar this winter as one of the game’s best centre-backs.
Before his first outing against Ghana on Thursday, Dias admitted the feeling of watching on in 2018 is nothing like actually playing on the biggest stage in the international scene.
“It will definitely be a special moment,” he told CNN.
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“I had the chance of being in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. And I definitely 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.”
Dias also reflected on his first training session with Cristiano Ronaldo, who he admitted left him impressed with his work ethic.
“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 practicing 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.”
He added: “Football for me is everything. It’s life. It’s happiness. It’s dealing with everything from being wonderful to being the worst thing in the world, dealing with all kinds of emotions.
“It’s preparing my future, it’s preparing one day to have a family. It’s becoming a better man myself. Like many other professions as well but for me, football is a big example of life because you have it all in football.”