From the second Cristiano Ronaldo walked by way of the door at Previous Trafford, Roy Keane knew the membership had signed a world beater.
Manchester United had moved rapidly to snap up the wanted 18-year-old in 2003 and paid Sporting Lisbon £12.24million for him, having watched him give John O’Shea the run round in a pre-season pleasant.
He made his mark there and stays a legend to these within the purple half of town.
Writing in his autobiography, The Second Half, Keane mentioned: “I appreciated the lad straightaway. He had a pleasant presence about him, and a very good angle.
“What impressed me most was that he’d been given the choice of staying in Lisbon for an additional yr, on mortgage, however he mentioned no; he’d come over to Manchester straightaway. I believed it was a very good, courageous choice – as a result of he was solely seventeen.
“After the primary few days, watching him prepare, my response was, ‘This lad goes to be one of many world’s best gamers.’ I didn’t say it publicly, as a result of I’d all the time be cautious of constructing a participant up too early – or knocking him down.
“He appeared like a participant. You need to look the half, and he did. [Zinedine] Zidane appeared like a participant – and Ronaldo appeared like a participant. The form, the physique language – they have been there. A little bit of vanity, too. However he’d a pleasant means about him; he was very likeable. We overlook that he was very closely criticised when he first got here on the scene. He was taking place too rapidly when tackled, his ultimate product wasn’t adequate. However – once more – he was solely seventeen, a child. I used to be enjoying youth soccer for Rockmount, in Cork, at that age.
“He was wonderful. He was instantly one of many hardest working gamers at United. A lot of the gamers I knew labored arduous, however Ronaldo had the expertise on high of the work fee.
“He was good wanting and he knew it. He was useless in that sense – on the mirror. He was a giant lad, a giant unit. I’d suppose, ‘Good on yeh.’ a few of the different lads in entrance of the mirror, I’d suppose, ‘Yeh f***in’ nugget.’
“However Ronaldo had an innocence to him, and a niceness. I don’t suppose he ever slackened off, or that he was ever extra frightened in regards to the mirror than his recreation. I all the time felt that soccer was his love.”
As anybody who watches telly is aware of, Keane is a tough man to impress, however the way in which Ronaldo goes about his work left an impression on taskmaster Keane who was all the time pushing his team-mates to do higher.
Ronaldo, now 36, received the FA Cup alongside Keane in 2004 and the ahead remained on the membership for an additional 5 years the place he received three Premier League titles, the Ballon d’Or and the Champions League earlier than an £80m switch to Actual Madrid.
He additionally scored 118 targets in 292 video games which explains why United and City followers are divided on the hearsay linking him with a shock transfer from present membership Juventus to the Etihad.
“I’d be heartbroken,” talkSPORT Drive and massive Man United fan Andy Goldstein mentioned. “If he went to Man City I believe he’d be lifeless to me.
“As a lot as I adored him and beloved him for what he did for my membership it might all depend for nothing. His historical past at United, in my thoughts, can be wiped.”
A City fan, Kevin, went one step additional on the identical present by telling Andy he wouldn’t watch his beloved membership once more whereas Ronaldo wears blue.
“I’d fairly get relegated than have him enjoying for us.”
Since leaving United, Ronaldo has cemented his place as one of many recreation’s best, with one other 4 Ballons d’Or and Champions League successes so as to add to those collected in Manchester.
However he’ll all the time have that reference to purple.