MUNICH (Reuters) – Portugal defender Ruben Dias said a gruelling season with club side Manchester City had motivated him for Euro 2020 and he hoped to outdo himself in the national team’s title defence.
Centre back Dias, who was named England’s Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association, played 50 matches for City in all competitions in the 2020-21 campaign apart from his national team commitments.
“This just motivates me. I like to outdo myself and I like to play always on the red line,” Dias told reporters.
Global players’ union FIFPRO warned that player welfare was not being considered when competition calendars were drawn up.
The Euros were postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 crisis, which delayed the start of the 2020-21 season and forced European leagues to complete the demanding season in time for the summer tournament.
A number of top club coaches criticised the compressed schedule but Dias played down the impact of fatigue.
“I want to do things that nobody has done before and the chance to represent my country with all these games behind me only motivates me further,” Dias said.
“This also leads me to believe I can show that I’m doing well, that I’m strong and that I can keep on playing.”
Portugal began their campaign by beating Hungary 3-0 and take on Germany in their Group F match later on Saturday.
“Our expectations are that we’re going to be facing one of the best teams in the Euros,” Dias said.
“We’re also one of the best teams and we’re fully aware that even if we started off on the right foot we need to have our feet planted firmly on the ground.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)