Portugal comfortably blanked Uruguay 2-0 in a crucial 2022 FIFA World Cup Group H tie, confirming their place in the Round of 16.
The defense of the Portuguese was in imperious form, leaving the Uruguayans at a loss for ideas while on the attack. Among them, Pepe was the most impressive, even at his advanced age.
The 39-year-old Pepe, playing in place of the injured Danilo, became the second-oldest outfield player in the history of the World Cup behind Roger Milla, who was 42 when he turned out for Cameroon in Italy in 1990.
However, he might not have made it this far had he gone through with the drastic decision he pondered in 2009. Pepe was banned for 10 matches after one of the most outrageous acts seen by a player in Real Madrid colours.
The Guardian reported that he conceded a late penalty against Getafe before proceeding to kick Javi Casquero while he was on the floor and striking Juan Albin in the face.
Following his ban, he seriously considered retirement after his disgraceful acts, saying:
"If I have the opportunity to continue playing football, I'm going to try to do things in the best way possible. But if I feel that I'm not in the right state to return to playing, I will continue with my normal life and try to do something else to support my family."
At the time, Pepe admitted he had been heavily affected by his actions and they had robbed him of desire to do anything at all. Instead, he vowed to wait to see what happened after the sanction.
However, he did not believe his entire career could be judged by a single action, although he ceded his deplorable conduct.
"I'm very sad and right now, I have no desire to get back to playing. Nobody knows how I feel. I'm depressed and I don't have the words to describe how I feel. The biggest punishment that I could receive is what I'm feeling now."