Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Manchester amid a media storm.
Manchester United had managed to sign the player without the Press
suspecting anything. As the Stock Market was told that the player had
been signed, hundreds of journalists flooded up to Manchester to get a
proper look at one of Manchester United`s youngest signings.
Ronaldo was born on the 5th February 1985, on the small island of
Madeira, which is owned by the Portuguese. Named after Ronald Reagan,
due to his father`s respect for the man, few would have gambled that
this child would make it to the very top of the Football tree,
especially with Madeira mainly being used for farm-land. He has one
brother and two sisters, and it is family whom he deems most important
in his life at the moment.
It was on the dusty back-streets of this small island that Ronaldo
learnt his first few tricks, and it was also on this Island that he was
first scouted. By the age of twelve Ronaldo had established himself as
the best player on the Island, able to use his ball skills and pace to
get past full-grown defenders for Andorinha.
Having been recognised as a serious talent, all
that was left was for the big Portuguese clubs to scrap it out for his
signature. Though Porto and Boavista came in for him, he could only
ever play for Sporting the club he supported as a boy.
He progressed slowly through the youth ranks,
although all those who worked with him were impressed with the talent
that he had for his age, as well as his maturity.
At the tender age of 17, Ronaldo was thrown in at the deep end with his
first game against Moreirense. Two goals on his first appearance not
only gave him his dream debut, but also endeared him to the fans, who
soon learnt to chant for the ball to be passed to him. A goal against
title-rivals Boavista also saw him rise to the top of the "Fan`s
His skills were watched closely by all of the big clubs in Europe,
including Liverpool and Juventus, in the U-17 European Championships.
His dazzling skills put England U-17s out, and everyone who watched
felt they had seen something special.
At the end of his first season at Sporting he was
linked to Liverpool. Though he claimed he was extremely happy at
Sporting, he was also flattered by the interest of such a big club, who
used to do well in the Premier League.
Sporting finished top in the league, and Ronaldo
was hailed as the future of the club, alongside Quaresma, another
As it was, both moved away, with the money on the table to much for the
Portuguese club to turn down. Best-friend Quaresma ended up at
Barcelona, whilst Ronaldo came to the bright red of Manchester.
The deal saw Ronald become the most expensive teenage signing in
Britain, with Manchester United paying £12.24million over two seasons,
in two equal payments. Those who had not seen him play baulked at the
price such a lot of money for someone unproven!
Those who had seen the Man Utd vs. Sporting
friendly just three days before, however, knew that this player was
special. Playing for Sporting, Ronaldo had taken the game to the reds,
and was the main reason that Manchester United lost 3-1. After the
game, all the United players could talk about was how well Ronaldo had
played, and they begged Sir Alex to buy him. Sir Alex had been
following him for months, but decided that the time was right not least
because other clubs were getting increasingly closer to buying him.
An so, on 12th August 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo
held up the famous Red shirt, with his favourite number 7 (it is hero
Figo`s number) for all the press to see.
A new star had been born.
His first performance for the club was against
Bolton. He entered the fray with an hour gone, with United 1 0 up. A
standing ovation from the fans at old Trafford did nothing to settle
his nerves, but he rewarded the fans for their trust. A
man-of-the-match performance followed, and Ronaldo became legend. He
had a hand in two of the goals, won an unconverted penalty, and
mesmerised the Bolton defence.
The next day the media proclaimed him one of the best players ever for
United, comparing him with Red-Legend George Best. Much had been seen,
but much is still to come.