Cristiano Ronaldo’s first days at Manchester United explained by former team-mate

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Former Manchester United midfielder Quinton Fortune has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo predicted his rise to stardom as a teenager.

Ronaldo has come a long way since he first made his move to Old Trafford back in 2003. The Portuguese ace started out as a relative unknown at United, before going on to become one of the greatest players in football history.

Since those early days with the Reds, Ronaldo has gone on to win five Ballon d’Ors, become the highest goalscorer of all time, and win countless trophies with United, Real Madrid and Juventus. Now 37 years old, the forward continues to break records after making his return to United last summer.

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And Ronaldo was never in any doubt about his rise to the top. Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at the launch of their 5-A-Side Bet on Brighton vs. Man United, former team-mate Fortune revealed the lengths his former team-mate went to in order to single himself out from the rest at a young age.

“I’ve seen the work Cristiano [Ronaldo] puts in; I’ve seen it firsthand,” Fortune said. “The determination, the desire, the mindset, you name it, he’s got it.

“He just brings that confidence and belief, whether he’s 17 or 37 – I remember when he arrived at the club in 2003, he told us that he was going to be the best. That mindset, and the way he’s trained since then; putting weights around his ankles and doing stepovers, going to the gym every day, fine-tuning every single part of his game… it’s absolutely unbelievable. If any player, young or old, is looking for guidance, there’s your man!”

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Few could have predicted the meteoric rise Ronaldo would enjoy during those early days at United. Even before he joined the club though, Fortune and his team-mates knew they were getting something special.

“Cristiano was 17 when he joined up with us at Manchester United – and obviously the move came off the back of that pre-season friendly we played against Sporting Lisbon,” Fortune added. “Me personally, I didn’t know anything about him to be totally honest with you.

“We just knew we were playing against Sporting in the opening of their new stadium; we’d just come back from a tour of America, and that was it. As the game went on – and luckily I’m playing on the other side of the pitch when this is happening – this kid just stands out instantly to us; he’s doing all of these tricks, he’s quick on the ball, he’s putting in these amazing crosses. I’m just thinking ‘wow, who’s that kid?’

“Half-time comes around and no one is really saying anything about him, because we’re all so focused on doing our jobs, even in a pre-season game. But Cristiano Ronaldo was extra-special; some of the stuff he was doing, he really put on a show for everyone that day. You couldn’t pay too much attention to it during the game, but at the same time it was hard not to notice the things he was doing.

“And then after the game, you could see in the dressing room, all of us were thinking the same thing: ‘who’s that, and can we get him?!’ And the rest is history; and thank God we managed to sign him.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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