Daei rooting for Ronaldo to break his record

Daei rooting for Ronaldo to break his record

TEHERAN • Former Iran striker Ali Daei has said he would be honoured to see Cristiano Ronaldo break his record for the most number of international goals as the Portugal captain closes in on his tally of 109.

Ronaldo, the only other centurion in men’s football, has scored 102 goals in 168 appearances since his debut in 2003.

While Portugal do not have any more international games scheduled for the rest of the year after yesterday’s final Nations League group-stage match at Croatia, the 35-year-old is on track to surpass Daei’s mark some time next year.

“I would congratulate him directly,” the 51-year-old, who also captained Team Melli before retiring in 2006, told Tasnim news agency.

“But first he has to get there. I sincerely hope that Cristiano Ronaldo will reach my goal record for the national team.

“Ronaldo… will beat my record, I’m sure, but he still has seven goals to go.

“In no way (would I be hurt). It would be a real honour for me if a player of his calibre could beat my record. Ronaldo is one of the best players, not only of this era but of all time. He’s an absolute phenomenon.”

Although Portugal coach Fernando Santos is eager to see Ronaldo surpass Daei under his watch, he insisted his team would not pass the ball to the Juventus forward for the sake of it, especially at next year’s European Championship, where they are the defending champions.

“Nobody will be thinking about Cristiano,” he said. “They will not be thinking about not scoring in order to give the chance to someone else.

“Even Cristiano wouldn’t want that to happen. Cristiano will score when he has to score.”