Tears of despair turned to tears of joy as Cristiano Ronaldo finally won the international honour he craved with Portugal in Paris on Sunday night.
The Real Madrid superstar was carried off on a stretcher midway through the first half of the Euro 2016 final against hosts France after suffering an early injury.
The 31-year-old Portugal captain departed the field in tears, but returned to the touchline to cheer his side to a 1-0 victory secured by substitute Eder’s 109th-minute strike.
Ronaldo, nursing a strapped knee, appeared to want to kick every ball standing in the technical area alongside Portugal coach Fernando Santos and spoke passionately to his team-mates prior to the start of extra time.
He celebrated wildly and limped up the Stade de France steps to lift the trophy – Portugal first ever title.
Ronaldo sustained the apparent knee injury in a robust challenge with Dimitri Payet and Patrice Evra.
The former Manchester United forward, who has won virtually every club and individual honour available to him, tried to hobble on following treatment, but his participation ended abruptly when he signalled to the bench and he was taken off.
Ricardo Quaresma replaced him and Portugal might have feared their chance had gone with the loss of talisman Ronaldo, who suffered defeat in the Euro 2004 final on home soil, when Greece won in Lisbon.
In the semi-final against Wales, he equalled Michel Platini’s European Championship goalscoring record with nine.
There was no Ronaldo goal in the final, with the winner coming from Eder, a player who failed to score in 14 appearances for Swansea last season.
The 1998 World Cup final at the same venue featured injury torment for another Ronaldo, when the Brazil striker by the same name was initially left off the team-sheet in peculiar circumstances which remain unexplained, before being added to the team shortly before kick-off to little avail as his side lost 3-0 to France.