I still remember the day when Cristiano Ronaldo was first revealed as a Manchester United Player. It was the summer of 2003 when Manchester United played a friendly against Sporting Lisbon and was thrashed 3-0. It was all thanks to a virtually unknown 18 year old, who, as time has revealed would go on to become one of the best players in the world.
His arrival at Manchester was a relatively low-key affair. Not many people might have expected him to become as good a player as he is now. But Sir Alex had such confidence in him that despite Ronaldo’s reluctance, he almost forced him to wear the famous No.7 jersey for Manchester United. Yes, the No.7 which had previously been worn by legends such as George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and David Beckham.
The next six years have been nothing short of spectacular for both the club and the player. The initial stages of his career at United were not glittered with silverware and also his play was all about the little step-over and mostly individual brilliance rather than playing with the team. This is where the influence of Sir Alex Fergusson comes into the picture. He is in many ways responsible for transforming a player with extraordinary potential into the Best player in the world within 3 seasons. The big turning point of Ronaldo’s career was the infamous wink incident at the 2006 world cup. He very well knew that he would be a hated figure in England and therefore wanted to move to Spain. That was the first time that the Real Madrid talk happened. Fortunately for Manchester United Fans, and also for Cristiano, he got talked out of that decision by Carlos Queiroz (then Assistant Coach at Manchester United). The rest as they say is history. Manchester United winning the EPL for the next 3 seasons along with one Champions league. And not to forget, they reached the semi-finals in 2007 and finals in 2009.
There have been many highs for Cristiano at Manchester. The biggest personal achievement would definitely be winning the Ballon d'Or and the World Player of the Year award in 2008. Some would say the greatest achievement as a team is winning the Champions League in 2008. But, as per me it is winning the Premier League in 2007 after Chelsea completely dominated it for 2 years prior to that. As far as individual brilliance is concerned, there are far too many to be mentioning it here. The latest being the amazing 40 yard winner he scored against Porto to lead his team to the champions league semi-finals.
To sum it up, Cristiano Ronaldo has definitely left a lasting impression on all the Manchester United fans. Will he be counted in the same league as some of the Manchester United legends like Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, etc? Well, my take on this is, due to the imminent and consistent desire he showed of playing for Real Madrid, he will miss out on this honor. So Cristiano Ronaldo will always be remembered as a great player for Manchester United, but one who fell just short of being counted among the all time legends of this great football club. Let us all wish him luck for his career ahead at Real Madrid.