Friday, December 14, 2007

7. Cristiano Ronaldo

keys: manchester united | Cristiano Ronaldo | Winger | Cristiano Ronaldo profile | Cristiano Ronaldo photos pictures Cristiano Ronaldo wallpapers

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Birthdate: 05 Feb 1985
Birthplace: Madeira
Position: Winger
Appearances: 208
Joined United: 12 Aug 2003
United Debut: 16 Aug 2003 v Bolton (H)
International Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo has just about exhausted all superlatives, except to say that having developed and matured from a young and inexperienced winger when he joined from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, he's now among the best and most dynamic attacking forces in the world.

Signed as a largely unknown 18-year-old for £12.24m, the story goes that Sir Alex was persuaded to sign him by his players on the plane home from a pre-season friendly against Sporting that summer. In truth, the boss had long been aware of his ability. The urgency to sign him stemmed from interest from other top European clubs. This was a target Sir Alex simply

couldn’t let slip through the net.

Ronaldo wasted little time in showing off his sublime skills with a stunning 30-minute debut against Bolton at Old Trafford in August 2003. After 39 appearances and eight goals – including the opener in the FA Cup final win over Millwall – he was named the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for 2003/04. His second season never quite lived up to his first. But some late season form saw him end the 2004/05 campaign with nine goals in 50 appearances. In 2005/06 Ronny again reserved his best form for the latter half of the season, a clear sign that, despite his undoubted talent, this was a player still honing his talent.
Then came the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, a truly defining moment. In the quarter finals against England, Cristiano was blamed for Wayne Rooney’s sending off, the scapegoat for England’s exit. Some wondered if he would even return to Manchester. But Sir Alex’s calming words assured him. After all, it’d happened before with Eric Cantona in 1995 and David Beckham in 1998. The best players respond to adversity, and he did just that.

United’s title success was undoubtedly a team effort, but one player was central to almost every major plotline. It began with the barnstorming

5-1 win over Fulham – Ronaldo and Rooney running the show and very publicly rubbishing claims the two were at odds. Dazzling wing-play was backed with regular assists and crucial goals, including seven in five games over Christmas and then a last-gasp winner against Fulham in February.

His form brought renewed interest from Spain, but United’s No.7 signed a new five-year deal until 2012 insisting, “I’m happy here.” In 2006/07 he claimed 14 individual awards and, most crucially, his first Premiership medal. The soundtrack to Cristiano’s campaign may have begun with a chorus of boos, but it ended with cacophonous applause.


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