Portugal defender, Pepe has declared himself fully fit and ready for the biggest match of his career on the international scene as his country takes on France in today’s Euro 2016 Final.
Their seventh major tournament semi-final brought with it progress for just the second time, 12 years on from the ignominy of falling to Greece at the end of a European Championship they hosted.
“I feel great,” he said on the eve of the final.” I am fully fit and can be chosen to play tomorrow. Yes [this is the most important match of my career] because I am representing my people, my country.
“We want to write our names down in history and we believe that we can play well. We want to follow the gaffer’s orders and we want to bring great joy to all the Portuguese people.
“Tomorrow we will have 11 million people, 11 players, plus three who will come on later on, and everyone will want to write their name in the history books and the history of Portuguese football.”
Pepe is hoping to replicate Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph in terms of upsetting the hosts, although he believes comparing the situations is akin to doing so with “apples and oranges.”
This, the defender says, is a “totally different kettle of fish” and Portugal coach Santos believes France have the wherewithal to cope with the pressure.
“There is some pressure, we have that experience from 2004,” said the coach, who formed part of a commentary team for that match 12 years ago.