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SOCCER WORLD CUP

‘Not even in my wildest dreams’ — hat-trick hero Ramos stunned by Portugal call-up

‘Not even in my wildest dreams’ — hat-trick hero Ramos stunned by Portugal call-up
Goncalo Ramos of Portugal celebrates at 5-1 during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland at Lusail Stadium on 6 December, 2022 in Al Daayen, Qatar. Portgal ultimately won 6-1. (Photo: ANP via Getty Images)

After Portugal manager Fernando Santos opted to bench Cristiano Ronaldo for the round of 16 clash against Switzerland on Tuesday, youngster Gonçalo Ramos stepped up to become an instant hero for his nation.

Portugal’s Gonçalo Ramos was as surprised as anyone at being named in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s 6-1 hammering of Switzerland in the Qatar World Cup round of 16, managing to score a hat-trick that was beyond his imagination.

Making his first World Cup start, Ramos smashed three goals past the Swiss and set up another to propel Portugal into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006.

Ramos made headlines before kick-off when the teams were announced, picked by Fernando Santos to lead the attack in place of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was relegated to the bench.

Goncalo Ramos of Portugal

Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer (left) reacts as Goncalo Ramos of Portugal scores during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland at Lusail Stadium on 6 December, 2022 in Al Dayen, Qatar. (Photo: ANP via Getty Images)

It did not take long for the 21-year-old to become one of the biggest stories so far at the Qatar World Cup.

“I think not even in my wildest dreams I thought about being in the starting 11 for the knockout phase,” Ramos said, smiling.

When asked if Ronaldo spoke to him before the game, Ramos said the issue of him being benched did not come up among the players.


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“Honestly, in our team, no one talked about it. Cristiano as our captain (as he always does) helped us. He gave encouragement to us, not only to myself, but our teammates [as well].”

Ramos made his debut in Portugal’s 4-0 win over Nigeria in a warm-up game a few days before the World Cup and played a total of 10 minutes as a substitute in two of the three group matches.

The Benfica striker’s treble made him the first player to score a hat-trick in his first World Cup start since Germany’s Miroslav Klose against Saudi Arabia in 2002.

Ramos scored the opener for Portugal with a stunning strike at the near post after 17 minutes and added a second in the 51st when he put the ball through keeper Yann Sommer’s legs before helping tee up Raphael Guerreiro’s goal four minutes later.

Goncalo Ramos, Portugal

Goncalo Ramos of Portugal scores his second goal during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland at Lusail Stadium on 6 December, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

He got his hat-trick after 67 minutes when he latched onto João Félix’s pass and lifted the ball deftly over the advancing Sommer, smiling and repeating for a third time his two-guns celebration before going off as a substitute soon after.

Ramos said it was too soon to know if he would get a start in the quarterfinals against Morocco on Saturday.

When asked who his role models were, he said: “Cristiano Ronaldo was one of them,” together with Robert Lewandowski and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has clearly been watching them closely. Reuters/DM

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