Pepe basks in EURO win: “We represented Portugal, a beautiful country of immigrants”

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Were it not for the fine performance of Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio, the clear Man of the Match for EURO 2016’s championship tilt would’ve been defender Pepe.

The Real Madrid man was outstanding in the guts of Portugal’s defense, holding France scoreless for 120 minutes in the tournament clinching win.

[ MORE: Match recap | Three things ]

That Portugal was able to do it without Cristiano Ronaldo, who forced Portugal to use a sub within the game’s first half-hour, is even more impressive.

Here’s Pepe:

“There was a lot of suffering, a very intense game. We fought very hard. We had to work very hard and be more humble than the other team, that’s the only way to win. We left it all out there, it’s the only way to win. We represented Portugal, a beautiful country of immigrants and we represent every one of them. This goes out them.

“It was tough to lose our main man. The man who could at any moment score a goal. He could make the difference but we were warriors on the pitch. We said we would win it for him and we managed to do that.”

Pepe is one of the more vilified players in the world, and for good reason, but he was sensational for Portugal on Sunday. It’s good to read his words and remind ourselves that there’s a human side even to villains.