Cristiano Ronaldo Revealed He Changed Which Team He Supported When He Turned Professional
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Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo once revealed that he switched his club allegiances away from Benfica after becoming a professional footballer.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner played for Portuguese sides Andorinha and Nacional at youth level in the 1990s before arriving at Sporting CP’s academy in 1997.
However, Ronaldo admitted that he was a supporter of Portuguese club Benfica growing up, with the Primeira Liga side being one of Sporting CP’s fiercest rivals.
Benfica are Portugal’s most decorated club and have lifted a record 37 Portuguese league titles -- eighth more than Porto and 18 ahead of Sporting CP.
The Eagles captured an incredible eight Primeira Liga titles in the 1960s, with Portugal legend Eusebio playing an instrumental role in the club’s success.
Ronaldo, who is a fond admirer of Eusebio, spoke to United Review in 2004 and revealed how he left behind his support for Benfica when he signed for Sporting CP.
“When I was very young, I supported Benfica but, as soon as I moved to Sporting, they were my team,” he said, as per United’s official website.
“I spent seven years there and I’m grateful to the club for everything they did for me, so that’s who I support.”
Ronaldo made a lasting impression on legendary former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson during Sporting CP’s friendly win over the Red Devils in 2003.
Ferguson snapped up the Sporting star in a £12.24m deal, with the iconic Scot calling him “one of the most exciting young players I’ve ever seen” at the time.
Speaking to United Review, Ronaldo said his “major ambition” at the Premier League club would be to win both the league title and Champions League.
“My major ambition with United is to win the Premiership and, in the future, to win the Champions League,” he explained.
“It would also be great to make the Portuguese squad for Euro 2004, that’s a dream for every Portuguese footballer. It would be such an honour to represent them in our home country.
“It would be intriguing if we met England and I came up against some of my United teammates. I'm sure it’d be an interesting game if I played against Gary Neville on the wing, but hopefully I’d win the battle between the two of us.”
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Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, Premier League, England, Primeira Liga, Portugal, Sporting CP, Benfica, Football