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The Ballad of Cristiano Ronaldo

By | 11th June 2009

So it’s finally come to an end. The most protracted and annoying transfer saga in Manchester United history has ended with Cristiano Ronaldo finally getting his wish to look absolutely fabulous in all white whilst topping up his tan in the Spanish Sun.

Some will inevitably see the deal, and his request for it, as inconclusive proof of their belief he is an evil, diabolical, ungrateful little grasping greasy foreign **** who should be strung up and paddled for the sheer gall of wanting to play for anyone but Manchester United. And some will see it as a great opportunity to follow Spanish football for a bit since it’s clearly on the rise again, always looked very entertaining on the telly and Barca were jolly good in Rome weren’t they?

However, not in here they won’t. This is not Fraggle Rock and as such, muppetry is not welcome.

Instead I’m going to look back on an era that will go down in history, to the chagrin/delight of some, as the Ronaldo Years. Come with me on a journey through time and space, through rain and shine (though mostly rain) through ups and downs, and through failure, but most prevalently success…

Ladies and gentleman I give you…

The Ballad of Cristiano Ronaldo


Our story begins in Lisbon. After cunningly instigating Real Madrid’s decline by selling them an aging England captain and part time hair care spokesman, Manchester United set about trying to find his replacement after failing to convince the love child of Ken Dodd and Trisha that it only rained occasionally in Manchester.

On a warm night at the opening of the Estadio Jose Avalade, a skinny 18 year old with a famous name and spaghetti stuck in his hair ran riot in a 3-1 defeat for the reigning English champions. On the plane ride home the team raved about his talents and before you could say ‘garish jumper’ he was shipped over to Manchester, still apparently in his pajamas, and made the most expensive teenager in football for £12.24 million.

In the 60th minute of the opening game of the 2003-04 season, a new star was introduced to Old Trafford, and after a devastating 30 minute cameo became the latest in a long line of Man United prodigies to be labeled ‘The New George Best’. This time, however, it was to be true. Or as true as one could possibly get.

He scored his first goal on the 1st of November and in the same manner as his predecessor, from a free-kick, against Portsmouth.


After a stop start beginning to the season Ronaldo finished strongly. In an average season by United’s standards, Ronaldo was the one truly bright spark. Beautiful strikes against Tottenham and Villa and a goal and Man of the Match display in the FA Cup Final helped him win the in-house Player of The Season award. Often criticized for his theatrics and over-elaboration, his raw talent gave United fans enough of a glimpse of the future that awaited him, to reassure them that the famous number 7 shirt was in good hands.

In the summer he was called up to the Portugal squad for Euro 2004 and despite defeat in the final, scored two goals and was named in the ‘Team of the Tournament’ alongside another young talent who was to become his team mate and eventual partner in crime.


After finally retrieving that lost piece of spaghetti from his hair, fixing his teeth and bulking up considerably, Ronaldo continued to improve over the next couple of seasons. Overshadowed somewhat by the imperious displays of his new teenage team mate (who had neither grooming, nor physical problems to consider) he still managed to chalk up more goals and assists in each season. He scored United’s 1,000th Premier League goal against Middlesbrough and got both the equalizer and subsequent winner in the 4-2 away win at Arsenal. He capped his 3rd season at the club with another Cup Final goal, this time against Wigan in the Carling Cup, and, as before, used the opportunity to show off his subsequently more buffed and tanned physique. Rooney, thankfully, didn’t follow suit.

He also picked up his first international award, scooping the FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year award which, despite sounding like something they give out to gallant contenders at the Special Olympics, is apparently a legitimate and worthwhile award.

World Cup 2006 and beyond

The first real test of character came in the summer. After Rooney had delicately attempted to prevent Ricardo Carvalho from ever having children, Ronaldo’s subsequent protest & wink maneuver drew all the suppressed hatred, bile and xenophobia that lurks in sections of the English press and fan base, spewing to the surface. Just like Beckham before him, Ronaldo was pilloried, flogged and burned in effigy by the kind of base, knuckle dragging football fans that think singing ’10 German Bombers’ en mass in a packed German City Center is a good old fashioned harmless sing-a-long. It also began his long protracted flirtation with ‘that mob’, Real Madrid.


Returning to England the most hated man since Gary Glitter decided his gang was getting a little thin and could do with an injection of youth, he set about proving his worth to the world. After combining with Rooney for the 4th goal in the 5-1 demolition of Fulham on the opening day, all sin was forgotten and he never looked back. Playing the best football of his career to date he destroyed nearly all comers, helping United to their first title in three years and becoming the first player since Andy (tickaboosun) Grey to win both PFA Young and Outright Player of the Year awards. His last minute goal versus Fulham and the 7-1 battering of Roma will go down in United folk lore.

The Madrid rumors abounded again but they were slapped down by a new contract. Only failure in Europe could diminish an astounding season of progression.


Unbowed by his achievements the previous season, 2008 was to prove a magical year for Cristiano. In it the greedy bastard won almost everything it was possible for him to. Scoring an incredible 42 goals, including his first and only hat-trick for the club he collected the Premier League, the Champions League, the World Club Cup, another PFA and FWA Award double, the Golden Boot, the Ballon D’or, World Player of the Year and presumably a multitude of ‘special’ awards, not to mention, crucially, ‘Gay Times’ Sexiest Man Alive’ Award. He also scored another Cup Final goal (though this time deciding not to strip to the waist) making him one of the few players in history to score in the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Finals.

But once again the Madrid talk wouldn’t subside, and after a ridiculous summer of to-ing and fro-ing, Ronaldo was finally convinced to stay by a presumably irate Sir Alex. The boss had won, but the seeds were sown


Despite a poor Euro 2008 and rather lackluster start to the season, Ronaldo picked up the pace towards the end of the season and once again proved crucial to United’s success. After initially refusing to celebrate his goals in what some perceived as a massive stroppy sulk, his dedication and professionalism cannot be doubted in the final stretch. Combining to great effect with his on-field brother in arms Wayne Rooney, United tore through the likes of Spurs and Arsenal on their way to a hat-trick of titles and in his final hurrah, gave us a performance of world class brilliance by destroying Arsenal in their own back yard.

And I would implore United fans to remember him like that. His departure may leave a sour taste but his record is impeccable. Whether he should have stayed, or should have acted with more respect is not the point of this article. He has achieved more in his six years here than Best, Law, or Charlton did, and although he’ll rightly never be remembered with the same reverence, his greatness is not in doubt and neither is the legacy he leaves the club with. Manchester United are arguably the biggest team in world football right now, and if one player can take the most credit for their resurgence, it’s him.

When he first joined as a scrawny unknown teenager, as a replacement for the most famous man in football, who could have said that six years later he would have helped United significantly to:

3 League Titles
1 European Cup (+ 1 Runner Up)
1 FA Cup (+ 1 Runner Up)
2 League Cups
1 World Club Cup

292 Appearances and 118 Goals

Whether you love or loath him, this was his era. However he’ll be remembered by United fans, it must be said…

Sweet dreams were made of this… and who am I to disagree…

Reader Comments

The below views are those of our readers and do not reflect the opinions of Premiership Talk or its employees.
  1. Elosia johnson says:

    Will united ever welcome ronaldo back if he wants to play

  2. Oscar Pye-Jeary says:

    I also clearly meant to type 'you're' then and not your…so yes, I'm an idiot

  3. Oscar Pye-Jeary says:

    I can tell your a hoot at parties!

    It's a throw away line intended to be humorous…for the record Beckham was a sterling servant to both Manchester United & Madrid.

    It is a joke…have a horlicks

  4. ScottMalkinson13 says:

    "Our story begins in Lisbon. After cunningly instigating Real Madrid’s decline by selling them an aging England captain…"

    I'm sorry. Good article, but thats where you lost me.

    Beckham was 28 when he moved, and let me assure you, 28 is a midfielder's prime. He was not an aging England captain anymore than a 29 year-old Zidane moving to Madrid 2 years before that.

    To try and promote the club's transfer strategy by belittling Beckham is typical of a United fan who wants to believe everything you do is good/proper and that Fergie isn't a hypocrite (Please refer to his view on Madrid courting Ronaldo – which were obviously not attributable to his own protracted sleazy tapping up of Berbatov.) And this is from Beckham's biggest critic.

    Beckham performed well at Madrid. Fabio Capello will testify to that.

    Fergie is arrogant to the core, but even someone who hates him as much as I do will admit he's been brilliant. Selling Beckham was a bad decision, just like selling Stam was. It worked out, because Ronaldo and Ferdinand (a bit overrated) have been brilliant. But Ronaldo was a gamble just like signing every teenager for big money is. Luckily, it paid off. In spectacular fashion at that! I just don't see why no one will ever acknowledge it.

  5. Craig says:

    mate – banging article…..

    filled with facts, fun and laughs about my beloved team and the once beloved ronaldo.

    It may be sour grapes, I just hope he flops on madrid… its such a shame, and really infuriating that they are allowed to spend so much at once, and its really a shame that all these players willingly go there with some fantisy history book in their hand and euro signs in their head.

    Buying cups have never been the way forward. Chealsea tried, hell, madrid tried before, and after the inital 1, 2 years sucsess… they will all fall the same way.

  6. soccer says:

    I love Cristiano Ronaldo, he realy played well.

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