Pepe grateful for Portugal opportunities after netting in 100th game

Pepe spoke of his appreciation at the chance to represent his county after celebrating his 100th Portugal appearance with an equalising goal in a 1-1 draw against Croatia.

The veteran centre-back nodded in Pizzi’s cross in the 32nd minute of the friendly contest at the Estadio Algarve to cancel out Ivan Perisic’s well-hit opener.

It was the ideal way for the 35-year-old to celebrate his landmark cap and the former Real Madrid defender spoke of his joy at pulling on the Portugal jersey.

“For me, representing the national team is always important,” the Euro 2016 winner said in quotes reported by O Jogo.

“I want to do my best to help the country. The team was fine, we have many young players who want to demonstrate their value. The team is be to congratulated.

“I’m very happy. I appreciate the opportunity I have been given to represent Portugal, it means a lot. I try to enjoy every moment.

“I want to make my contribution for everything Portugal has given me. I can only thank you.”

Head coach Fernando Santos was happy with the workout for a side shorn of the goalscoring prowess of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is being rested over the international break.

“I think it was a well-managed display within what I expected, with normal mistakes,” he said.

“We knew there has not been a lot of interaction between these players, there has not been a lot of training to create this rapport so it has to be created through games.

“We started well, but the Croatia goal created a problem. We felt that goal and were slow to react, we were not at our level for 10 minutes, but then we returned to the game and we equalised.”

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