16 Years Ago: Cristiano Ronaldo Signed For Manchester United And The Rest Is History

16 years ago, on a warm afternoon in Manchester, around 67,000 people rose to their feet to celebrate a memorable 30 minute cameo from new signing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side held a narrow one-goal advantage against bogey-side Bolton.

But when a young winger from Portugal entered the fray, things quickly changed.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Days before his grand entrance at Old Trafford, this skinny, gangly teenager with Spaghetti-like string running through his hair was pictured alongside Kleberson as fans got their first glimpse of their future star.

Image: Manchester United
Image: Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro's actually made debut against the club for Sporting CP, just ten days previous to his Old Trafford bow.

It was the start of his unbelievable journey to the top.

"The first game I played against Manchester United was an unbelievable game, the perfect night." Ronaldo reminisced.

"When I listened after the game some of my team-mates said 'listen, you are going to go to Manchester, trust me. Sir Alex Ferguson is there and wants to speak with you.

"So I went to the dressing room and he introduced me to the players, which for me was a little bit fun because I was a little shy.

"Alex Ferguson then said to me 'I want you now'. Everything came so fast and two days later I spoke to the coach and they took me to England. Then I was in Manchester and I signed."

Ronaldo would later cement himself into the hearts of United fans around the world.

But his seven year contribution at Old Trafford earned him nothing but respect from plenty elsewhere, whether that be in or outside of the game.

He recorded the highest number of goals scored to win the Premier League Golden Boot for a 38-game season: 31 goals (shared with Alan Shearer & Luis Suarez).

Ronaldo was also the first player to win all four main PFA and FWA awards, the first and only Manchester United player to win the European Golden Shoe and the first and only Manchester United player to win the Fifa World Player of the Year.

Before all of the glory, though, it's great to look back at the fresh-faced Ronaldo, standing next the great Sir Alex Ferguson. It puts things into perspective.

Jack Kenmare

Jack Kenmare is a writer at SPORTbible. He's interviewed some huge names in the world of sport, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pele, Carles Puyol and Tim Henman. He dabbles in all things sport, but football is his biggest passion. He was once hit in the head by a wayward strike from Nicky Butt and lived to tell the tale.

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