Plenty of people have made judgements on him already. For example, take these tributes from two legends of Portuguese football: “There are some things he does with a ball that make me touch my head and wonder how he did it,” admits Figo.
Praises from Portugese Legend Eusebio
“He is waiting to be an icon,” adds Eusebio. “He would enhance any team, any league anywhere.”
With praise like that it is no wonder Ronaldo is having to get used to attention from fans and the media, and quickly. His name, age, shirt number and ability all ensured he’d be thrust into the media spotlight from the second he became a United player. However, having reportedly attracted interest from Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia over the past 12 months, he’s used to attention and it’s not something that overly concerns him.
“Sometimes I had that attention at Sporting, other times not. It depended on game that I was playing in; I got it more when I was with the national squad. But I spoke with Sir Alex Ferguson and he told me all about the club and said to me to just be calm, be tranquil and then things will happen naturally.”
Only days after our interview things do start to happen naturally. His substitute appearance against Bolton sees the Mail on Sunday splash ‘Boy Wonder’ across their back page and the Independent on Sunday run the headline ‘A Seven From Heaven’.
When I bump into him again at Carrington days later, I take the opportunity to ask him about his impressive debut….
“I loved being out there and witnessing all the people who were cheering for me,” he admits, looking relaxed and happy. “I really loved the fans’ reaction to me, it left me speechless. I felt a lot of happiness, it was a great feeling to finally be out at Old Trafford and to be playing for Manchester United.”
Ronaldo’s debut has merely increased the weight of expectation and piled more pressure onto his young shoulders. But if he can handle the media interest and fulfill his undoubted potential, Sir Alex’s decision to bring him to the club a year earlier than planned could be yet another masterstroke.