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  :: Cristiano Ronaldo Interview ::
Cristiano Ronaldo Interview

    He shakes his head: “No, no, I didn’t know anything about it. It never crossed my mind that I might be here now when I played United. I didn’t have the slightest idea that the club was interested in me. I just concentrated on playing the game and it didn’t feel like I was on trial.

I’m now looking forward to playing with the players I was playing against.

I knew the players before the match last week but I know more about them now. I’ve just met them and they were friendly to me and welcomed me to the club.”

And how does he feel to be one of them now?

“It’s a great joy to have signed for Manchester United but it’s also a great responsibility. I am delighted to be here, Old Trafford is a big and famous stadium. The facilities here at Carrington are excellent and I have been received well by everyone. I hope to play and help the team achieve everything it wants.”

“I’m looking forward to getting started here and hopefully I will play as soon as possible. I hope things will go well. I hope to answer everything that’s asked of me and I hope that everybody is proud of me.”

The media were always going to look to the club’s new signings to find one that they could dub the ‘new becks’. Taking over the number seven shirt from the England captain inevitably meant that Ronaldo would become that player. However, he seems unflustered by the pressure his shirt number will create.

“The number seven shirt is an honor and a responsibility. I hope it brings me a lot of luck. I did not come to replace Beckham. I know that everyone will demand a lot of me, but we are different players."

"I would have liked to have kept my number 28 but they gave me number seven. I’ve got to keep my feet on the ground and hopefully succeed. If I achieve half as much as he has in career it would be an achievement.”

Sir Alex says he had no concerns about giving his new Portuguese signing the shirt number worn by Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and Beckham during his tenure.

“Ronaldo is young,” he explained. “Some famous players at this club have had the jersey. It wasn’t a matter of who do we give the number seven to, it was appropriate a young player like Ronaldo should take it.”

That he’ll be likened to other top players of the past and present is evitable. He can expect to be labeled the new version of just about any player who has taken on legendary status at the club, names like Best and Giggs popping up as regularly as Beckham. With a surname like his though comparisons and labels are something he’s already got used to, the Madeiran youngster being labeled “the Portuguese Ronaldo’ in his native country.

“It’s normal, it’s no problem for me. I’d like to impose my own style of play and do the best for myself and for the club here. I don’t want to be compared to anyone.”

So how would he describe himself?

“I feel comfortable playing as a striker or on either of the wings. I enjoy playing all of those positions. But I prefer other people to make judgements about the way I play and to characterize me, rather than me describe myself.”

Cristiano Ronaldo Interview

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.

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