Cristiano Ronaldo: 6 games that defined the Real Madrid superstar's career
We pick out the 6 matches that have defined Cristiano Ronaldo's fifteen illustrious years in football
Cristiano Ronaldo is one part of the two-man act that have redefined how we view football and footballers. One of the greatest footballers of the decade (one can even make the argument that he is the greatest European player of all time) his career is one that has seen him go from the streets of Madeira to the heart of Madrid – via a memorable 6 years in Manchester – to become the face of modern football.
Here we take a look at 6 games that defined the man we now love and adore (or hate and call penaldo – whatever floats your boat)
6. Sporting Lisbon vs Manchester United – Friendly, 2003
”I thought ‘Bloody Hell!’”
Watching the match from the comfort of his warm home in Cheshire, Gary Neville couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The young wispy kid in Sporting Lisbon green and white was rampaging up and down the flank tormenting Neville’s deputy John O’Shea. Rio Ferdinand claimed that O'Shea was "sitting there like he needed some oxygen" while captain Roy Keane went further. "Sheasy ended up seeing the doctor at half time because he was actually having dizzy spells."
All these may be slight, retrospective, exaggerations on the part of the United legends – but the affect that a young Cristiano Ronaldo was having on them was palpable. Having burst on to the sightscreens of clubs all across Europe just the year before (he had already spent three days at Arsenal’s Colney training ground) he was wanted by most everyone. Sir Alex Ferguson, though, had set his sights on him – and when the fiery Scotsman did that, he usually got what he wanted.
The lads in the dressing room talked about him constantly," said Ferguson, "and on the plane back they urged me to sign him - that's how highly they rated him. He is one of the most exciting young players I've ever seen."
Sign him he did, and the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.