Roberto Martinez has defended Cristiano Ronaldo and hailed the importance of his Portugal captain ahead of his sixth European Championship.

Portugal begin their Euro 2024 campaign on Tuesday with a Group F match with Czech Republic where talisman Ronaldo will make more history.

Al Nassr forward Ronaldo, fresh from scoring 51 goals in 52 appearances for club and country during the 2023-24 season, will play at a record-extending sixth Euros and has been backed to play a key role for Portugal.

Martinez told a press conference: “Cristiano is the only player who has played in five Euros and he will now play in six.

“His experience is very important to the dressing room, but we know there will be difficult times during the tournament and we need to see whether or not we have the quality to progress.

“Nobody gets in the national team by having a name.

“For us, Cristiano is a goalscorer, he is someone who can make the final move and can really stretch defenders to open spaces.

“Over the years Cristiano has changed his way of playing slightly, but Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to back that up.”

Czech Republic captain Tomas Soucek talked up Ronaldo’s quality and feels Portugal can go all the way in Germany.

“Portugal is not only favourites in our group, but favourites to win the whole tournament,” the West Ham midfielder added.

“They have shown their quality in the past years. Obviously Ronaldo is the mega star. For the last 20 years he has been the biggest star in Portugal.”