On a night in which Portugal secured a semi-final place at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 and kept their dreams of winning a second major title alive, Joao Moutinho made his 100th appearance for his country. The Monaco midfielder joins Ronaldo and Nani as the only players in the current squad to have amassed at least 100 international caps for Portugal.
â€œAfter all of this I still feel great pride when representing the national team,â€ Moutinho toldÂ FIFA.comÂ after the match. â€œIt feels special to reach the 100th match and to still be here continuing to help the team, which is my ultimate objective.â€
The 30-year old first appeared for Portugal in August 2005. Now almost 12 years later, after appearing at three European finals and one FIFA World Cup, Moutinho could be just two matches away from securing Portugal only their second ever international title. â€œAll the Portugal teams of the past came with this dream, with this hope of getting to a final and winning,” said Moutinho.
On Moutinhoâ€™s centennial, fellowÂ SeleÃ§Ã£oÂ veteran Nani scored his 24th international goal for Portugal on his 110th appearance. Nani celebrated by kissing his shin-pad, which is adorned with an image of his son Lucas. While Nani pointed at Lucas and yelled â€˜Papaâ€™ into the camera, Moutinho came over to hug the winger and share a few private words.
When asked if he was aware of Moutinhoâ€™s milestone, Nani said: â€œOf course! We havenâ€™t had the chance to mark it yet so as soon as this is over i’m going to go give him aÂ Carolo (To tap someone on the head with knuckles). Iâ€™m glad I have the opportunity to celebrate with him. He is an excellent player and he deserves all the success after what he has done for this team.”
Nani, who started for Portugal in 2006, has shared in Moutinho’s lows but also, especially recently, in celebratory and historic Portuguese nights.
“We basically arrived at the same time in the team and Iâ€™ve always accompanied him on his journey,â€ Nani said of Moutinho. “I hope that we both continue to represent the team for many years to come and that we succeed together with the few years that we have left with the team.â€
“Itâ€™s always special to score goals for ourÂ SeleÃ§Ã£o,â€ said Nani. “Itâ€™s always a great pride to represent and wear this jersey. To be honest when you are in a competition like this, you donâ€™t think too much about how many games youâ€™ve played. These moments certainly affect you in the future though.â€