Cristiano Ronaldo was public enemy number one in the summer of 2006 following Wayne Rooney’s dismissal in the World Cup. Ronaldo was one of five Portuguese players surrounding the referee but because he winked at the bench after Rooney had been sent off, the country blamed him for England’s World Cup exit.
He was booed and jeered wherever we played and his house was vandalised. Just as we’d supported David Beckham eight years earlier, United fans came out in full support of Ronaldo. “He plays on the left, he plays on the right, that boy Ronaldo makes England look shite!” became his anthem.
Following an agreed fee of £80m to take him to Real Madrid, Ronaldo has thanked the fans for all the support we gave him.
“I really could not have asked for any more from them,” said Ronaldo. “There were times when the whole of England was against me but they stood strong in their support and belief for me. While opposition fans’ hate made me stronger, the love of the United support also made me stronger. I just want to say thank you for all their support. I will never forget them and I hope I have given them memories that will always be with them.”
Ronaldo has also ruled out a return to the Premiership to play for any club other than United.
“It would not feel right to play for anybody else in England apart from Manchester United,” he continued. “They have been my home for so long and it would feel like I was cheating if I played for anybody else.”