Real Madrid defender Pepe believes Portuguese players are under a lot of pressure in La Liga.
After being named the winner of the 2012 Artur Agostinho award for Person of the Year in Portugal, the 29-year-old claimed he and his compatriots come under increased scrutiny playing in Spain.
“There is a lot of pressure on the Portuguese in La Liga,” he told Record, before highlighting a clash with Getafe’s Javier Casquero in the 2008/09 season.
Pepe was banned for 10 games after kicking out at the Getafe midfielder, and subsequently considered quitting the sport altogether.
“After Casquero, I was forever marked throughout the world.
“They still call me ‘assassin’ today. I was tempted to quit football.”
Pepe’s side are languishing 16 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, and the Real player said he wanted to secure an historic 10th Champions League title this season to make up for a poor league campaign.
“We must be realistic, we are in a very complicated situation in the league. To earn la Decima would be historic,” he said.
With Real Madrid inconsistent on the pitch, speculation has mounted over the future of coach Jose Mourinho and forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who have been linked with big-spending Paris Saint-Germain.
“If Cristiano or the boss (Mourinho) make the decision to leave, it will be their choice,” he said.
“”I will not choose the same option just because they leave. I will make my decision at the right time.
“Porto is a club I would like to return to. It was a club where I learned a lot as a player.”
The 29-year-old added that he would love to see Ronaldo claim the Ballon d’Or early next month for his achievements in the game over the past year, but conceded it was unlikely he would pick up the prize.
“I would love Cristiano to win the Ballon d’Or, for being my friend, for doing so much for football, having been in the top three five times in the last six years, and for winning the league. But it seems he is not going to be the winner,” he said, referring to Lionel Messi’s status as favourite.
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