Former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo left one of his teammates 'in bits' and 'needing oxygen', which paved the way for his eventual transfer to Old Trafford.
The winger made a name for himself at Sporting CP and became a highly sought-after talent, with the likes of Arsenal interested in signing him at the time.
But it was after Sporting defeated United 3-1 at the inaugural game at the Estádio José Alvalade in August 2003, did manager Sir Alex Ferguson become determined to sign the then 18-year-old, for whom they eventually paid around £12m.
And during a live FIFA 20 match as part of the ‘Stay Home. Play Together’ campaign by EA SPORTS and COPA90, Ferdinand talked about how Ronaldo's performance during the game, helped earn him the big move to Manchester, and detailed which United teammate was left exhausted from defending the Portuguese star.
He said: "We played against Sporting in 2003, we get in at half-time and John O’Shea must’ve needed an oxygen tank next to him. He was in bits and he was sitting there panting. We were telling him to get closer to Ronaldo and he couldn’t even answer us.
“To be fair, me, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were standing there going ‘this kid’s unbelievable, we’ve got to sign him’.
"We got on the coach and we were delayed for about an hour and a half, and then [the bosses] said they were doing a deal to sign Ronaldo now.”
Fortunately for O'Shea, he was certainly not the last defender to be left out of breath from guarding the attacking superstar, who thrilled United fans by simply dominating the Premier League and all opposing defences that came up against him.
After spending six seasons in Manchester, Ronaldo departed for Real Madrid in a £80m deal in 2009, having earned legendary status at Old Trafford. He left having played 292 games for the club, and scored 118 goals in all competitions.
And at 35 years old, it's fair to say he's still one of the most difficult players to mark for any defender today.
Source : 90min