Older United fans may still remember that August 16, 2003, when team boss Alex Ferguson made an 18-year-old debutant from Portugal after about an hour (and at 1-0) in their club’s season opener against Bolton Wanderers was substituted on to the right midfield position, who not only contributed significantly to the 4-0 final score with his tricky wing play, but also immediately won the hearts of the spectators in the stands: Cristiano Ronaldo. Four days earlier, the footballer, who would also have liked to have Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona or Juventus on the payroll, was brought from Sporting Lisbon to Old Trafford for 17.5 million euros. Twelve years later, the multiple Champions League winner is now celebrating his comeback at the former club.
These had been good and instructive years for Ronaldo, and the footsteps he followed were certainly not small. In reality, he had initially had a problem putting on the great David Beckham’s number 7 dress – he would have preferred the 28 he wore at Sporting – but the initial one gave way with every game and goal Respect. It took a while for Ronaldo to become friends with the English way of playing and to become friends with his own egocentric, but then things went very quickly. A couple of doubles in the Premier and Champions League, such as the 7-1 win against AS Roma, brought the top scorer in 2006/07 (with 17 goals and 13 assists) the title of “England’s Footballer of the Year”, which he scored in January 2008 he had his first hat trick against Newcastle and won the premier league trophy in May’s final thriller against Chelsea – even though he missed out on penalties.
It continued in this way in 2008 and 2009. The seasons not only brought him triumphs at the Club World Cup and the championship, but also the Ballon d’Or and, for the first time, the prestigious title of “World Footballer of the Year”. He entertained the audience, however, with goals worth seeing, such as the 35-meter goal in the Champions League quarter-finals against Porto, for which he was awarded the Puskas Prize at the end of 2009. Only the second Champions League victory (0-2 against Barca) did not come to anything. This defeat had little to do with Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid a few days later. Rather, it was the money that attracted – exactly 94 million euros.
“I’m not on vacation here”
In comparison, the comeback deal with Juventus (15 million with no bonus payment), where CR7 last played three seasons, was a bargain. On the other hand, Ronaldo is no longer the youngest with his 36 years of age. Nevertheless, the Red Devils will offer him a happy “Welcome Home Party” on Saturday in Old Trafford. After all, you have not forgotten who helped the club to eight trophies (within six seasons) and scored no fewer than 118 times. “The enthusiasm will be red hot,” predicted United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “Everyone is happy that he is back, everyone knows what he can give the team. We know that we are closer to winning titles with him,” said the Norwegian.
“I’m not here on vacation. What used to be was good, we won important titles and I wore the United dress for many years, now I’m here to win titles again,” said Ronaldo. The potential for this is there. “I’m ready, it’s a good chance for me, the fans, to take the club a step forward.”
Should Ronaldo play, it would be his first appearance in the Premier League after exactly 12 years and 118 days (May 2009 against Arsenal). No other player has returned to England’s House of Lords after such a long break. Much speaks for a home win (4 p.m. / Sky), Manchester United has only lost one of the last 36 home games against Newcastle, with 26 successes and nine draws. In the table, Ronaldo and Co. are currently third, tied ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea.