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Idols: Growing up watching Cristiano Ronaldo become the best player in the world

Who is your Manchester United idol?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Clubs: Sporting Portugal 2002-03, Manchester United 2003-09 and Real Madrid 2009-Present

Country: Portugal, 143 caps, 75 goals as of Thursday 29th June 2017

What did the player mean to you? 

Ronaldo was my favourite player growing up. I first started watching football in around 2003/04, when Ronaldo was first signed from Sporting. I have followed his career ever since, as he has developed into becoming the best player in the world.

Why did you idolise this player? 

The way that Ronaldo harnessed his talent with equal hard work made him the best player I have ever seen play at Old Trafford. Ronaldo’s work ethic enabled him to develop from a skinny 18-year-old into a player who has added heading and physical abilities to his game. The famous header against AS Roma on route to winning the 2008 Champions League in his 42-goal season, highlighted how far Ronaldo had progressed physically since his move to Manchester United in 2003.

What is your greatest memory of the player? 

My greatest memory of Ronaldo is Moscow 2008. He scored the opening goal in the final, heading in Wes Brown’s cross brilliantly. Then he missed a penalty in the shootout and many thought that despite scoring 42 goals over the 2007/08 season he would be remembered for that penalty miss. But luckily United won the penalties 6-5 and Ronaldo dropped to the floor, as his teammates ran off to celebrate. It showed how much winning the Champions League meant to him. The pinnacle of club football had reached Ronaldo after five seasons of hard work in Manchester to become the player he is today.

Favourite match? 

Manchester United 5 Spurs 2 – 2008/09 season

2-0 down at half time to Luka Modric and Darren Bent goals at a crucial stage in the title race. Manchester United produced an incredible comeback, almost mirroring the White Hart Lane 5-3 comeback. The Reds’ brilliant front four, Carlos Tevez, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and of course Ronaldo played a part in the goals. Ronaldo scored a penalty to get things started, then after Rooney equalised, a Ronaldo diving header made it 3-2 and almost sealed a third consecutive title for United. The celebration that followed is iconic and synonymous with Ronaldo’s time at Manchester United. Rooney with another and Berbatov completed the scoring on a great day for United, after another famous comeback from Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.

Best goal for Manchester United?

Free kick – Manchester United 2 Portsmouth 0 – 2007/08 season

I was sitting in the East Stand for this match, so I had a great view of Ronaldo’s first goal, then this brilliant free kick. The swerve Ronaldo got on his free kicks while at Manchester United was incredible, but this one was something else. After a long run up, Ronaldo lifted the ball over the wall, but then the swerve kicked in and it became the perfect free kick. Right in the top corner, giving David James absolutely no chance of saving it. In fact, the ex-Liverpool keeper did not even move. The goal rightly won Match of the Day goal of the month for January 2008, as Manchester United claimed another Premier League title in 2007/08.

At the time, Ronaldo said, “that was probably my best-ever goal, I shoot the way I do because it is my strength.”

While at Old Trafford, Ronaldo’s free kick taking was at its most prolific. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson believed in January 2008 thatCristiano’s strike-rate is phenomenal and is as good as any.”

From when I started watching football, Ronaldo has been involved in the game. We have seen him develop into the World’s Best Player on four occasions now. Leaving many still hoping that one day he may return to Old Trafford to play for Manchester United again.

Written by Ben Lyons

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