“Teenager takes Beckham No7 shirt”, No Football Fan would forget this headline. In2003, When Legendary Sir Alex Ferguson announced the arrival of an 18-year boy, the Football World was not much familiar with that name. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. At £12.24m, the 18-year-old having only 25 first-team appearances in the Portuguese Superliga becomes the most expensive teenager in the history of the British game. Manchester United fans didn’t really know what to make of this exciting young Portugal winger. But Ferguson had the faith in him and he believed in his potential. He hailed him as one of the most exciting young players he had ever seen.
At that age Ronaldo is not just a footballer, he is waiting to be an icon”
Ferguson had a clear idea about this young man. When Ronaldo requested the number 28 Jersey, his number at Sporting, he received the number 7 shirt. 7 had previously been worn by United Greats such as George Best, Eric Cantona, and David Beckham. Ferguson believed this boy can grow as big as these legends. Not just Ferguson, legends like Eusebio also felt the same. “At that age, Ronaldo is not just a footballer, he is waiting to be an icon”, World still remembers these words from Portuguese legend. Many legends felt he would enhance any team, any league anywhere and The boy, Cristiano never let all those hopes down.
Nearly 30 minutes on the pitch. But when he returned, he proved the world Sir Alex Ferguson was right. The Former greatest No.7, George Best, hailed his debut by calling it as “the most exciting debut he had ever seen”. Bolton Trailing 1-0. Nicky But off, Cristiano Ronaldo in. New Chapter in the History of Football literally begun. By the end of 90 minutes, it was 4-0. Thanks to Bolton defenders Nicky Hunt, Ricardo Gardner, and Ivan Campo. Pace, power, stepovers, quick feet, and quality set-piece delivery: the 18-year-old boy started ruling Old Trafford.
“It was a marvellous debut, almost unbelievable. I felt his penetration could make a difference for us.”
Manchester got a Hero. A Super Hero indeed. 2003-2009,6 Seasons, Boy to the World Best! This is how History is going to talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United. 118 goals in 292 matches, the world was on his feet. English or European, or World Championship, Ronaldo was their go-to man and United managed to win all these titles in his presence. His 42 goals in 2007/08 included 31 Premier League goals, the highest for a United player in last 47 years. Dribbles, Free Kicks, celebrations and every small thing out there made the former Red Devil their most loved pet.
15 years later, when Juventus faces Manchester United tonight, the world is again on their knees. Ronaldo at Old Trafford, not in red. A reminder of how far Manchester United have fallen since he left. The world-record transfer of £80 million (Dh294m) changed everything. If the move didn’t happen, then Real Madrid won’t dominate Europe as they did in the last few years. Since he left Old Trafford, Manchester was not the same. While Ronaldo continued his glory with Ballon d’ors and Champions League, United haven’t had the world’s best player at Old Trafford since he left. Today, Real Madrid Fans understand that pain. Because today they are going through such a situation. A Ronaldo-less Real Madrid is not the same, not threatening as they were, just like Manchester United.
It’s not the first time Ronaldo has been back. Ronaldo received a standing ovation on his last visit with Real Madrid in 2013. Even today, Ronaldo remains the best player most current United fans have ever seen play for their team. Even though they can match any club in terms of transfer fees and wages today, they are still in search of a world best. Today Manchester is finding it difficult to reach top 4 and earn a champions league spot. Yes, they were good last season. But not the best. Even though Ferguson still remains as a major factor, a Ronaldo could change team atmosphere. They had signings like Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan, Antonio Valencia, and Mame Biram Diouf. But still they can’t find a Ronaldo. No one can fill that shoes. It’s too big.
“I know I am an example. I know, 100 per cent. On the pitch and outside the pitch. So I am always smiling, I am happy man, I’m blessed that I play in a fantastic club, I have a fantastic family, I have four kids, I am healthy. I have everything. So the rest, it doesn’t interfere on me. I’m very, very well.”
On the last occasion, Sir Alex Ferguson had taken an unprecedented step. He asked Alan Keegan, the match announcer, to read out Real’s team second and Ronaldo’s name last. Today when Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford, there is no Ferguson. And unlike in 2013, there will be no celebratory welcome planned for the player tonight. He is under Microscope for last few weeks. The rape allegations against him are looking strong. Police in Las Vegas has reopened their investigation from 2009 at Mayorga’s request. Mayorga reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo in 2010 involving a £288,000 payment. At that time she agreed that she will never go to the public with such allegations. But it’s not the same today. Her lawyers have said they are now seeking to declare the non-disclosure agreement void.
Ronaldo denies all these allegations. “I am glad, of course, I’m not going to lie in this situation. I’m very happy. My lawyers, they are confident and, of course, I am, too. The most important thing is I enjoy football, I enjoy my life. The rest, I have people who take care of my life. Of course, the truth is always coming in the first position. So, I’m good.” Ronaldo seems to be very cool at the Press conference. But on the pitch, all these allegations don’t matter, especially for a player like Ronaldo. He always considers such external factors as fuels to boost his engine and hopefully even today he will play just like that.
Ronaldo never said anything bad about his time at Old Trafford or Ferguson. He always loved the club and their fans. But on the pitch, all those love and respect will come second. Because he is Cristiano Ronaldo and for him, the ultimate goal is to win. Running down the wing, hear United sing, Viva Ronaldo!