Cristiano Ronaldo exhausted all superlatives during his six years with United, while he matured from an inexperienced, young winger in 2003 into officially the best footballer on the planet in 2009.On the day he departed for Real Madrid in a deal worth £80m - making him the world's most expensive player - his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson said, "Cristiano has been a marvellous player for Manchester United. His contribution has been a major factor in the club’s success in that time and his talent, his ability to entertain and his infectious personality have enthralled fans the world over."
The story goes that Sir Alex was persuaded to buy Ronaldo - largely unknown when he signed as an 18-year-old for £12.24m in 2003 - by his players on the plane home from a pre-season friendly against Sporting. In truth, the boss had long been aware of his ability. The urgency stemmed from other clubs’ increasing interest. This was a target Sir Alex simply could miss out on.
Ronaldo wasted little time in showing off his sublime skills with a stunning 30-minute debut against Bolton at OT in August 2003. There was a buzz of excitement as soon as he stepped off the bench and, after 39 appearances and eight goals that season – including