Despite being away for just over a decade, Cristiano Ronaldo is gearing up to make an incredible return to the Red Devils. Since his first leg departure in 2009, Ronaldo has played for Real Madrid and Juventus, with his Juventus transfer being one of the most expensive for the club. Now, the master has come home on a 2-year contract at Manchester United. His re-entry match saw him deliver a promising show, as he scored two goals against Newcastle. Whilst we look forward to the next two years, let’s take a look back at the Red Devil titan’s first stint at Old Trafford.
Manchester United Debut
In 2003, while taking on Bolton, Ronaldo was subbed onto the pitch to replace Nicky Butt. This substitution gave way to a Red Devil legend. When he graced the field, Manchester United was sitting at 1-0 against Bolton. When they finished, they had won by an impressive 4-0. Although this game didn’t see a debut goal, it was clear that Ronaldo’s presence on the pitch had bolstered the team’s performance.
A couple of months passed since his first game and Ronaldo managed to hit the net. In a game against Portsmouth, Ronaldo was tasked to take a free-kick in the 80th minute of the game. The long-curved ball managed to find its way into the left corner of the net. Then, just moments after, he managed to assist Roy Keane. From this moment, it was clear that Manchester United had filled the hole left by David Beckham.
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During Ronaldo’s debut FA season, he played a heavy role in United’s win over Millwall back in 2004. With the score set at 0-0 as halftime drew near, Ronaldo managed to take advantage of a defensive lapse by Dennis Wise, as he headed the ball into the back of the net. After this goal, there was zero let up as the boys in red went into the second half. By the end of the game, they had dominated Millwall 3-0 and Ronaldo came out of his debut FA Cup Final with well-deserved silverware.
When we talk about Ronaldo, there’s no denying that he’s phenomenal at finding the net off a free kick. All you need to do is take a look at his 2008 free kick against Portsmouth to know that much. Going up against the incredible David James, Ronaldo pelted the ball from 25 yards and managed to land an impressive goal. When the ball hit the net, the entirety of Old Trafford erupted as they cheered the evidential free-kick master. Over the next two years, we’re bound to see even more triumphant scenes at the stadium.
Manchester United have seen some incredible goal counts, but none quite compare to that of Cristiano Ronaldo. Even the legendary George Best had his top midfielder goal scorer title stolen from. By the end of the 07-08 season, the Portuguese midfielder had hit the net an impressive 42 times. Considering Ronaldo is a midfielder, these numbers are phenomenal. Even Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez only scored 37 goals collectively – and they were strikers.
The 2008 Champion’s League Final brought an incredible close to a well-decorated season. Already, Ronaldo had won the Golden Boot, become a top goal scorer, and assisted in winning the Premier League. When the Champion’s League Final came around, Manchester United went against Chelsea in a jaw-dropping display of football. In the first half, Ronaldo had hit the back of the net for United, with Lampard following behind to equalise the game. After an eventful clash, the intense game went to penalties. In the end, the Red Devils walked away victorious, and Ronaldo had proved his worth to the world.
Presented by the France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or is considered to be one of the most highly regarded awards in the world of football. At the end of the 2008 season, Ronaldo managed to take the award home with them. The last person to win the award before him was George Best back in 1968. This is a truly tremendous achievement that demonstrates the Portuguese player’s worth to the club.
Unfortunately, 2009 saw Manchester United’s Champion League title taken away from them. However, this didn’t stop this protege from causing waves and making sure that all chatter was about him at the climax. During a quarterfinal game against Porto, Ronaldo managed to hit an absolute powerhouse of a ball at 40 yards and found the back of the net. This goal saw Manchester United win on aggregate and progress forwards to the semi-finals. With a goal like that behind him, there’s no surprise that the man won the Puskás Award for having the best goal of the entire season.
After an incredible display against Porto, Ronaldo wasn’t letting up when United brushed up against Arsenal in the semi-finals. From another astonishing free-kick, Ronaldo was able to score a goal from 35 yards out in the first half. Then, in the second half, he set up an incredible turn of events between Park Ji-Sung and Wayne Rooney, which he was able to meet in the box and smash against the net.
These are just nine incredible moments from Ronaldo’s first time at Manchester United, which cemented him as one of the greatest Red Devils to grace the Old Trafford stadium. The midfielder is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to free-kicks and goal scoring. No one knows what the future will bring, but it’s safe to say that Manchester United are in winning hands.