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15/01/2010 08:57,
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Overseas stars: Midfield

Our nominations for United's top overseas midfielders are from three different decades...

CRISTIANO RONALDO
Nationality Portuguese
Miles from M16? Born in Funchal on the island of Madeira, 1613 miles from Manchester
Signed August 2003 from Sporting Lisbon, for £12.24million
Service Six seasons (2003-09); 292 games, 118 goals.
Backstory Summer 2003, and United need a new number seven to replace the departed David Beckham. When a move for Ronaldinho falls through, United move instead for an 18-year-old wonderkid who has lit up the Portuguese league with Sporting Lisbon: one Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. The boss is inspired to make his move by a virtuoso display Ronny puts in against United in a pre-season friendly, which has his players raving. A week later Ronaldo inks a five-year deal, becoming our first Portuguese player.
Impact Dazzled from day one. His box-of-tricks debut against Bolton has gone down in Red folklore as a true “I was there” moment, and we watched in awe as he then went from strength to strength, developing into a supreme physical specimen and an unstoppable force on the pitch. By the end of his richly rewarding six-year spell he was our finest dribbler, main goalscorer, free-kick guru, most skilful individual, best in the air… he had completely mastered the art of football. One of the greatest players to ever pull on a United shirt – and that’s saying something.
Write home about So many picture postcard moments from

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Men in the middle

Pics: Click Cristiano to view our gallery

Vote: United's best overseas midfielder

Discuss: Talk about your favourite midfielders on Talking Reds

To mark 30 years since United's first foreign signing - Nikola Jovanovic - ManUtd.com and Inside United staff picked an all-time overseas XI.

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