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John O'Shea 'Needed Oxygen' After Coming Up Against Cristiano Ronaldo In 2003

Josh Lawless

| Last updated 

John O'Shea 'Needed Oxygen' After Coming Up Against Cristiano Ronaldo In 2003

Rio Ferdinand has recalled the time that Cristiano Ronaldo left future teammate John O'Shea gasping for air when he played against him for Sporting CP.

In the summer of 2003, United played the Portuguese outfit in a pre-season friendly that would go down as the day Ronaldo announced himself to the world.


An 18-year old Ronaldo, with his questionable blonde extensions, was utterly unplayable in a 3-1 win and tied United defenders in knots with his mazy dribbling.

Image: PA
Image: PA

The stunning performance prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to snap him up immediately for £12.24 million that summer, with some of the players gawking over the youngster they had just shared the stage with.

As for John O'Shea, he was just concentrating on catching his breath after being given the runaround.

"We played against Sporting in 2003, we get in at half-time and John O'Shea must've needed an oxygen tank next to him," Ferdinand revealed while playing FIFA 20 as part of the 'Stay Home. Play Together' campaign by EA SPORTS and COPA90.

"He was in bits and he was sitting there panting. We were telling him to get closer to Ronaldo and he couldn't even answer us.

"To be fair, me, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were standing there going 'this kid's unbelievable, we've got to sign him'.

"We got on the coach and we were delayed for about an hour and a half, and then they said they were doing a deal to sign Ronaldo now."

Image: PA
Image: PA

Ronaldo joined up with his new teammates ahead of the 2003/04 campaign and from the get-go he was ruining teammates in training, as revealed by former youth player Eddie Johnson.

"I was still quite young, but I was training with the first team and we did the 5 v 2 warm-up like we did every day, and he did the most audacious bit of skill and put it through the legs of one of the other young lads, Johnson said on "The Broken Metatarsal" Podcast, hosted by Planet Football.

"He'd confused him that much that he'd crossed his feet together and ended up landing flat on his face. Everyone was looking round going 'there's a player here' so from that day on it was pretty exciting."

Topics: Football News, Football, Manchester United, Sporting CP, Rio Ferdinand, John O'Shea

Josh Lawless
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