O'SHEA: The day we knew Cristiano Ronaldo was a special talent

JOHN O’SHEA: Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance for Sporting Lisbon against Manchester United was the day we knew he was a special talent and it’s great to see him back in the Premier League

  • Cristiano Ronaldo impressed in a friendly against Manchester United in 2003 
  • The Red Devils instantly pounced to sign the talented youngster after his display
  • The Portuguese star went on to forge a legendary record breaking career 
  • Ronaldo’s return will be a huge boost to his Manchester United team mates

Former Manchester United defender JOHN O’SHEA on his first encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo against Sporting Lisbon in 2003 and the buzz of seeing him back at Old Trafford.

I’ll always remember the look he gave me before the start of the game. It was about to kick off and he stared me right in the face as if to say, ‘I’m ready for this audition’.

When he performed as he did on the night, it was done deal for everybody.

Cristiano Ronaldo left an impact during a friendly against Manchester United back in 2003

From what I remember, not many of the boys were interested in playing the game after flying back from a tour in America late in the night.

You’re always prepared, don’t get me wrong. But it wouldn’t have been a normal preparation for a Premier League or Champions League game. We’d have had more rest.

You could see how comfortable he was to go with either his left or right foot. He was strong in the air even at that age, and he had the confidence to try the same trick again.

Some wingers might pass the ball away but he’d go back at you straightaway and enjoyed the one-on-one challenge.

John O’Shea played with Ronaldo at United until the latter’s exit from the club in 2009

It’s amazing how many memories have been exaggerated over time – in a good way. There’s been a bit of artistic licence. I can clarify that it was the same as any half-time break, there was no oxygen tank needed for me!

Although you could see he was at the beginning of his journey when he came to United, he was a super intelligent boy and realised what he was able to do.

He wasn’t the finished article when he left for Madrid, but the numbers he’s reached since then are scary.

The day it was confirmed he was coming back to United was an incredible feeling. My phone was bouncing everywhere with messages.

Current United stars will be buzzing ever since the news that Ronaldo is returning to the club

It just made everyone so happy. United fans and everyone associated with the club, and even fans of other clubs thought it was amazing to see Ronaldo back in the Premier League. The young kids at United will be absolutely buzzing.

Now it’s the real business and he still has the goods – as Ireland unfortunately found out in the international break.

That’s why United have signed him, and I’m sure he’s going to show that this season.

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