Manchester United

Ferguson decided that he wanted the youngster for his team, who were in the market for a right-sided midfielder with the departure of David Beckham to Real Madrid; Cristiano was signed for a fee of £12.24 million. He made his debut for Manchester United as a 60th minute substitute against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford. United were then 1-0 up but with just minutes on the pitch, Ronaldo won a penalty which Ruud Van Nistelrooy duly converted. The match ended in a 4-0 win to Manchester United and Ronaldo's contributions were hyped everywhere, with certain British tabloids running headlines such as Seven Heaven. He has played primarily as a winger for United and can play on either wing.

However for all his skill and pace, Ronaldo supposedly did not want the pressure of living up to expectations with this number, and so initially asked for the number 28 which he wore at Sporting. Preferring a free role, he has often been accused of being selfish.[citation needed] A row between him and Ruud van Nistelrooy at the Carrington training ground intensified speculation about their roles at the club.

Ferguson has however put his faith with Ronaldo, who signed a new deal with United that will last through 2010. Ronaldo is also quoted in the Manchester Evening News as saying "United have stood by me and been there for me and I want to repay that."

He was named FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year 2005, the only award to be voted for by fans. He also ranked 20th in the FIFA Player of the Year 2005 standings.

On 8 July 2006, after the sending off of United team-mate Wayne Rooney, and after much speculation in the English media that he had influenced Rooney's red card, Ronaldo told reporters that he thought he "should get out of Manchester as the circumstances are not right to keep playing there."

On 9 July, he also said for SIC, a Portuguese television channel, he cannot understand all verbal violence and pejorative speculation about him. Cristiano declared he did not behave wrongly when Portugal defeated England and so cannot be blamed for defending his home country colours. He added that he cannot live and work in a place where people do not like him, so he would be glad to move out of England.

On July 12, United released a statement saying "The club can confirm there is no possibility of Cristiano being sold. Cristiano recently signed a new contract until 2010 and the club fully expects him to honour that contract. The club will not listen to any offers for Cristiano," and on July 17, Sir Alex Ferguson said, "Cristiano will be coming back," while Chelsea manager José Mourinho said, "If he stays in England, I think he can turn things around." Cristiano Ronaldo returned to United after all potential problems were cleared.

Nevertheless, Ronaldo remained popular with the majority of Manchester United fans when he played (and scored) in his first Premiership match since the 2006 World Cup. Manchester United fans could clearly be heard chanting "there's only one Ronaldo" at various points in the game, in a 5-1 win over Fulham F.C. Since then, a BBC report stated that Ronaldo has said he no longer wishes to leave Manchester United, and is happy to remain at the club.

International career

Ronaldo made his international debut in August 2003, against Kazakhstan. He scored Portugal's only goal in their 2-1 loss to Greece in the opening match of Euro 2004 and the first goal of the semi final against the Netherlands, which Portugal won 2–1. The final saw a rematch of the opening game of the tournament, and again, Greece emerged victorious.

Ronaldo recovered in time to play in the quarter-final of the competition against England on 1 July 2006, scoring the final penalty shoot-out that sealed the Portuguese victory. However, Ronaldo was widely criticised for his gamesmanship by the English Press.England's Wayne Rooney stamped on Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho's groin after a struggle for the ball. Ronaldo, Rooney's Manchester United team-mate, then sprinted over to appeal to the referee. Rooney pushed Ronaldo before receiving a red card. Former England striker and TV pundit Alan Shearer suggested Rooney might "stick one on Ronaldo" when the two meet again BBC pundit Gary Lineker showed viewers footage of Ronaldo winking at the Portuguese bench after Rooney was sent off. Also before the match, Ronaldo was seen to whisper something in Rooney's ear as he walked by him, with a headbutt feint from behind. Ronaldo's behaviour in the match also came under fire from several England players, most notably Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. In their respective autobiographies, Gerrard claimed that 'a dark side stains Cristiano Ronaldo's game', whilst Lampard said Ronaldo's actions made him 'sick'.

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