Bruno Fernandes described his time playing with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United as a “dream come true” after the five-time Ballon d’Or winner left the club by mutual consent.
Ronaldo’s United departure appeared inevitable after he gave a bombshell interview to Piers Morgan, in which he said the club had “betrayed” him and declared he did not respect manager Erik ten Hag.
Having committed to taking “appropriate steps” against Ronaldo, United confirmed on Tuesday they had severed ties with the forward with immediate effect.
As Fernandes prepares to team up with Ronaldo for Portugal’s World Cup opener against Ghana on Thursday, the attacking midfielder said he will cherish their time spent together at Old Trafford.
Asked whether speculation concerning Ronaldo’s future had affected him, Fernandes said: “I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t have to pick a side. It was a privilege, to play at the club with Cristiano was a dream.
“Cristiano has always been an inspiration for me, so it was a dream come true to be able to play with him at the club, but we know that nothing lasts forever.
“It was great for me and good while it lasted. Cristiano took a different decision for his life and his decision has to be respected, regardless of us agreeing or not.
“We are players, but we’re also parents, brothers, we know it might be difficult to take these decisions but they have to be for the wellness of ourselves and our families.”
Fernandes also insists he has not discussed Ronaldo’s next steps with him, adding: “Cristiano hasn’t discussed with me, it’s his decision, a personal decision and it should pertain to him and his family, that’s for sure.
“We haven’t discussed the topic, we are focused on the national team, the World Cup. You know how important playing for the national team is for Cristiano.
“That’s a dream for a player, winning the World Cup, and it’s a competition where every player wants to play.
“Our focus is 100 per cent on the national team, we are aware of what we have to do. I don’t believe that what he’s done or decided will have any impact on the national team.”
Last week, onlookers speculated that an awkward handshake between Ronaldo and Fernandes demonstrated discontent between the duo, though Joao Mario later insisted it was the result of a joke after Fernandes arrived late for Portugal’s pre-tournament camp.
Fernandes repeated Joao Mario’s explanation on Wednesday, adding: “It was a joke. When you take regular flights – these things happen!
“I wasn’t worried about knowing his future at that moment. If it weren’t for this news, something else would happen.
“When you have to talk, you talk about those who make the most noise, and Cristiano is the one who makes the most noise in the world of football.”
Ghana coach Otto Addo, meanwhile, was in no mood to allow Ronaldo’s United departure to overshadow his own team’s World Cup preparations.
“I don’t know and I honestly don’t care. It’s not our problem,” Addo said when asked about Ronaldo. “I don’t think it will be a distraction. Everyone wants to win, it’s a big game, it’s the World Cup.”