Real Madrid defender Pepe hailed his Portugal teammates as “warriors” after they “battled” to victory in Sunday’s Euro 2016 final against France.
A spectacular year for Pepe saw him follow up winning the Champions League with Madrid in May by not only helping Portugal to their first-ever major trophy but also being named man of the match in the final at Stade de France.
“We knew we were on the pitch representing an entire nation, Portugal,” the centre-back said after the match.
“It’s a beautiful country, with wonderful people. We believed in the people who taught us many things, with humility, union, sacrifice and desire. This victory is for everyone!
“It was difficult to be without our best player [Ronaldo], the man who from one moment to another could make the difference, but God gives battles to the best soldiers and we were warriors on the pitch. We said we were going to win for Cristiano and we did!
“We defended and attacked well. There was a lot of pressure, but we wanted to win for everyone who came to see us.
“I want to give my thanks to everyone in the group, the staff and the Portuguese people. It was an extraordinary match, our best of the tournament.
“The [Portuguese] federation has worked well in recent years and [its work has been] very positive. We can rely on young players but also the more experienced ones.
“We’ve managed to write an important page in the history of our country.”