Cristiano Ronaldo, world’s leading soccer player, suffered a knee injury in Euro 2016 final the other day. He damaged his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the left knee, after a challenge with France’s Dimitri Payet, in the seventh minute of the match. According to the latest reports by Portuguese national team doctors in France, Ronaldo is likely to miss the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla to be played at the Lerkendal Stadion in Trondheim, Norway, on 9th August and also the first few matches in the 2016-17 Spanish La Liga season.

The Real Madrid star, and Portugal captain, was visibly in agony, shedding tears on the pitch, before having his leg strapped up but could not continue and had to be substituted in the 24th minute, his replacement being Ricardo Quaresma.

The Portuguese star did not visit any hospital after leaving the match though, so he still needs to run some tests on that left knee to confirm how severe his injury is. Ronaldo was forced to leave the final after an aggressive tackle by Dimitri Payet in the opening minutes of the game. He tried to stay on the pitch but soon realized that his knee was bothering him way too much. Payet fairly won the ball, despite going in hard, which lucky for him could have resulted in his sending off.

The impact of Payet’s trailing leg caught Ronaldo’s standing right leg, the studs of Ronaldo’s left boot got caught in the turf and hyper-extended the knee joint of his left leg. The Real Madrid forward tried to continue, going off twice for treatment. The second time visibly in tears from the pain, but more due to the realization that he won’t be able to lead his team. The 31-year-old initially appeared fit enough to continue, albeit with his movement limited by the heavy strapping applied by the Portuguese medical team. As the captain attempted to lead a counter-attack, he pulled for a third time and despite his heavy strapping was unable to continue, handing the captain’s armband to Nani, leaving the Portuguese supporters distraught, and their dreams of lifting the cup seemed insurmountable. The Portuguese captain was stretchered off in tears, amidst sympathetic cheers from fans of both nations.

Many pundits had completely written off Portugal’s chances of lifting the cup, after their star’s debilitating injury. The normal time score of 0-0 plus France’s missed chances seemed as if France would snatch victory from Portugal’s hands. At this point, Ronaldo emerged from the dressing room with his knee strapped and proceeded to motivate his teammates ahead of the first period of extra time. His drive to win could be observed throughout the match, as his injury did not stop him from pushing on his teammates from the sidelines, shouting tactics similar to a coach.

Ronaldo’s absence from the pitch is what pushed his teammates that extra mile, eventually leading to Eder’s goal in the 109th minute of match, which would ultimately seal the win for the Portuguese underdogs, sending the whole nation of host France into shock. The goal which came totally out of the blue, made Ronaldo forget all about his injury, leading him to celebrate with his teammates.

After Eder’s strike sealed Portugal’s first ever international competition win, Nani gave Ronaldo back the captain’s armband to lift the trophy. Further celebrations ensued on the Stade de France ground, just north of Paris, where just a few moments earlier the Portuguese magician writhed in agony.

A Little Information On The Nature Of Ronaldo’s Injury

Anterior cruciate ligament, also referred to as the cranial cruciate ligament, is one of the four main ligaments of the knee. ACL tears are one of the most common knee injuries, with over 100,000 ACL tears in the US occurring each year. Majority of ACL tears are a result of landing or planting in contact sports. Many professional athletes will require an ACL reconstruction if they have a complete tear and want to return to sports, because the ACL is crucial for stabilizing the knee when turning or planting. Reconstruction is most commonly done by autograft surgery, which consists of extracting the tissue from the patient’s own body.

The ACL can be treated without surgery as well with strengthening and rehabilitation exercises but it is a painstakingly slow process, which most players cannot afford. Occasionally stem cell injections can be given when the ACL is not completely torn and the knee is still stable or if the patient is not doing strenuous activities such as pivoting or turning. The main focus of ACL non-operative treatment is strengthening the muscles around the knee, especially the hamstrings. Focused physical therapy supervised by a qualified physical therapist can be an effective way to accomplish this. Hence it will be a tough rehabilitation process ahead for Ronaldo but hopefully he will overcome this obstacle, and return stronger than ever.