Star player or galactic phenomenon? The Irish footballing history with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo

The Irish and Portuguese footballing histories have been intertwined for decades, with their first official match dating back to 1946. The nations have faced each other numerous times in various competitions, with Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo making his mark in more ways than one during his career. Ireland will face Portugal in a friendly match on Tuesday, with many looking forward to seeing if they can contain the powerful nation.

In 1989, Derry City played Benfica in the European Cup, with the Portuguese side winning the tie. This was managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson, who invited Eusébio to his side's match at the Brandywell. In 2010, Sporting Fingal played Marítimo in the Europa League qualifying round, with the Portuguese side progressing to the next stage. The following year, the Aviva Stadium hosted the only all-Portuguese European final, which Porto won 1-0 over Braga.

Several Irish players have also moved to Portugal to play football, including Mipo Odubeko, who plays for Marítimo, and Ireland under-19 international Cristiano Fitzgerald, who plays for Estrela. Portughan legend Mickey Walsh also won back-to-back titles with Porto in 1985 and 1986. The record goal-scorer for Ireland's men's football team is Robbie Keane, who retired from international football after the 2016 European Championships.

Following Ireland's victory over Austria in the play-off, the team qualified for the 2022 World Cup, the first time in 20 years that an Irish team would compete in the tournament. However, they were eliminated in the group stages, winning only one game. This was the team's first win in a major tournament since beating Italy at the 1994 World Cup.

In 1989, Derry City played Benfica in the European Cup, with the Portuguese side winning the tie (managed by Sven-Ganor Eriksson) and Eusébio being invited to the Brandywell. In 2010, Sporting Fingal played Marítimo in the Europa League qualifying round, with the Portuguese side progressing on aggregate. The only all-Portuguese European final took place at the Aviva Stadium in 2011, when Porto defeated Braga 1-0. Several current and former Irish players are based in Portugal, including Mipo Odubeko at Marítimo and Cristiano Fitzgerald at Estrela, as well as manager Dario Castelo at Athlone Town. Ireland faced and defeated Austria in the play-offs to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, their first qualification in 20 years, but were eliminated from the group stages with only one win.

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