Even when he was not on the pitch, Cristiano Ronaldo was the centre of attention in Qatar on Tuesday night, as Portugal romped to the quarter-finals in his absence.
In one of the biggest managerial calls in World Cup history, Ronaldo was dropped to the bench for Portugal's last 16 tie with Switzerland, after poor performances in the group stage saw the young Goncalo Ramos favoured over the veteran striker.
The decision by coach Fernando Santos was immediately justified, as Ramos would score a sensational hat trick in a 6-1 demolition of the Swiss, as Portugal rolled on to the last eight.
Despite his career beginning to wind down in acrimonious fashion, and younger stars beginning to surpass him in ability, the soap opera of Ronaldo was still the centre of attention in Doha on Tuesday.
Photographers during the Portuguese national anthem…. pic.twitter.com/u0zoPs7ils
— Simon Evans (@sgevans) December 6, 2022
One FOX Sports reporter pitchside at the Lusail Iconic Stadium chose to make a rather unexpected likening to the immortal Irish writer Oscar Wilde when introducing the storyline surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo compared to Oscar Wilde by FOX Sports anchor
From a footballing perspective, dropping Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal's last 16 tie with Switzerland made sense - but, from a symbolic point of view, it represented a "passing of the torch" moment of sorts. The 37-year-old captain has carried his country to so many famous victories but, on this occasion, could have no arguments with being overlooked for younger, more exciting talent.
His exclusion was the big talking point ahead of the game, and one FOX Sports reporter made a bizarre connection between Ronaldo and the iconic Oscar Wilde in his opening remarks:
There's only one thing worse than being talked about - and that's not being talked about.
The iconic Irish writer Oscar Wilde said that. I don't know if he was a soccer fan - but he definitely would have been a fan of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The hilarious clip was shared to Twitter by Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, with the caption: "COME BACK TOMORROW TO LEARN WHAT WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT MBAPPE"
COME BACK TOMORROW TO LEARN WHAT WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT MBAPPE pic.twitter.com/pU58ORAIuE
— chris o'dowd (@BigBoyler) December 6, 2022
The quote from Wilde is an apt one for the headline-hogging Ronaldo, but the assertion that the Irish writer would have been a fan of Portugal's fading star is...an unusual one, to say the least.
Naturally, football fans found the clip from FOX Sports hilarious. Many pointed out that the quote was well used - but that the inexplicable addition of a personal connection between Wilde and Ronaldo ruined its use. Some chimed in with some similar attempts at literary links to the World Cup.
"Like Dickens said 'it was the blurst of times' and that's how Spain is feeling right now. Back to you Mitt"
— Russ McNamara (@McNamaraWDET) December 6, 2022
Samuel Becket is at Doha International, waiting for Dalot.
— Barry Duffy (@barryduf) December 6, 2022
"We are all in the Qatar but some of us are looking at the Vars"
— Prime8👾 (@pr1me8) December 7, 2022
"I will arise now, And go to Doha Duty-Free"
— disco_sue (@danimac353) December 6, 2022
During Portugal's impressive run to the quarter-finals, Ronaldo has only contributed one goal, from the penalty spot against Ghana - though he may have you believe that he claimed a second in their 2-0 victory over Uruguay.
Ronaldo's now infamous interview with Piers Morgan embodies the sentiment of Wilde's quote, with the Portuguese striker taking the focus away from his then-Manchester United teammates in the wake of a dramatic late win against Fulham.
United and Ronaldo have since parted ways in acrimonious circumstances, after he placed the club, manager Erik Ten Hag, and ex-teammates Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney on blast for their "unfair" treatment of him. The interview even initially appeared to have created tensions in the Portugal camp, with United man Bruno Fernandes appearing to give Ronaldo a frosty reception on arrival in Qatar.
Much of Ronaldo's frustration seemed to surround the fact that he had been dropped from regular first-team duties at United. Now that he has been dropped at international level as well, perhaps the penny will drop for Ronaldo - the problem isn't them, it's him.