PARIS (AFP) - Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted he didn't believe his country could win Euro 2016 and said that last season was probably the best of his glittering career.
"To be honest I didn't think Portugal could win the Euro. But match by match I started believing it was possible. In the end we deserved it, we played as a team and our players are to be congratulated," said Ronaldo in an interview with UEFA.com.
"Before the Euro we expected Portugal to have a good European Championship, get through the group stage, get through the quarter-finals and from there we saw everything as a bonus," added the 31-year-old, who came off injured in the first half of the 1-0 extra-time win against hosts France.
Ronaldo scored three goals en route to the final of the tournament to equal France's Michel Platini's record of nine goals in the European Championship finals.
He also netted the winning penalty in Real Madrid's Champions League final shoot-out win over city rivals Atletico in May.
"It was the pinnacle of a difficult season for Real Madrid in which we were ultimately able to win the biggest trophy in club football.
"In terms of trophies, it was possibly the best year of my career," added the Portuguese.
Ronaldo was also full of praise for former French superstar Zinedine Zidane, who took over as coach of the Spanish giants in January.
"Zidane was key. He's a great professional, a great person and, in my opinion, his biggest quality is his ability to give his players a sense of calm.
"We were 12 points behind Barcelona and we ended up just one point adrift. In the Champions League we did what we had to do - and went on to win it. What more could you ask? Zidane deserves a lot of credit."
Ronaldo is the record goal-scorer in the Champions league with 94 strikes.
He is one of three nominees for UEFA's award for the best player in Europe last season alongside team-mate Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann.