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Liverpool sporting director target was once headbutted by Man Utd star Cristiano Ronaldo

Liverpool sporting director target was once headbutted by Man Utd star Cristiano Ronaldo

He has an unusual claim to fame.

One of the top candidates to replace Liverpool's outgoing sporting director was once headbutted by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The football world was rocked last week by the surprise announcement that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will step down at the end of the season.

A new coach isn't the only position the club will be hiring for though. Jorg Schmadtke will leave his role as sporting director once the January transfer window has closed, just eight months after joining the club.

Liverpool are working to bring in his replacement, and they could turn to someone who has a history with arch-rivals Manchester United.

Bournemouth technical director Richard Hughes is one of the top candidates to replace Schmadtke, having done an impressive job on the south coast. Hughes is a close friend of Liverpool's former sporting director Michael Edwards.

If Hughes gets the job, then Liverpool fans will be pleased to hear about a run-in the 44-year-old once had with United and Cristiano Ronaldo.

During a 1-1 Premier League draw between Portsmouth and United at Fratton Park in 2007, Hughes was headbutted by Ronaldo and the Portuguese star was subsequently sent off.

Hughes told Play Up Pompey Three that he was brought off the bench to mark Ronaldo at set-pieces, and before long the superstar lost his temper.

"It was a trivial moment. One of the highlights of my career, but an insignificant encounter for Cristiano Ronaldo," Hughes said.

"I’m not someone who scored loads of goals, so I have to remember other landmarks. Should I ever meet people who don’t necessarily remember me playing Premier League football, I can always tell them that one of the game’s greats headbutted me.

Hughes explained how wound-up Ronaldo.

Ronaldo was sent off for headbutting Hughes (credit: Getty)
Ronaldo was sent off for headbutting Hughes (credit: Getty)

"Having come off the bench, my instructions were to pick up Ronaldo from set-pieces. I knew if he had a run on the ball then his jump was unbelievable.

"So when a corner was about to be taken, I deliberately moved towards him to make us collide, yet portrayed it as accidental while the ball sailed over our heads.

"He knew what I was up to – I was blocking his ability to get a run on the cross. Then another corner opportunity arrived – and this time he was looking out for me.

"Ronaldo went to push me off, so I flipped his hand away and the timing was perfect, he came stumbling forward and landed against my chest. 'Get off', I shouted as he was in my face... typical footballers behaving like stags.

"Now I wasn’t interested in a head-to-head altercation, so he had to come in a little closer – and, when he did, he popped against the side of my head.

"He didn't mean to headbutt me, but went in aggressively and ended up doing just that. I don’t actually think he should have been sent off, but it did make a sound and the referee Steve Bennett was right there next to us."

Featured Image Credit: Premier League

Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp, Portsmouth, Manchester United