It’s hard to think of a player who has left a club but has gone on to repeatedly express their love and respect for those they have left more than Cristiano Ronaldo has since leaving Manchester United.

On the club

June 21st 2009: “It would not feel right to play for anybody else in England apart from Manchester United. They have been my home for so long and it would feel like I was cheating if I played for anybody else.”

July 2nd 2009: “I have a sentimental attachment; I have spent a quarter of my life here. I was boy when I arrived at Manchester United and I’m leaving a man. This club and its fans will always have a place in my heart. I have learnt a lot of life lessons here, and I will never forget all the things I have been taught by so many people.”

July 8th 2009: “I spent six years at United and I owe them everything that I am today. I made history at United and won many trophies. It was a pleasure to play at Old Trafford.”

September 25th 2009: “Every time I can I try to watch United’s games on television. I still like to know what’s happening at Old Trafford. And despite being at Real I’m always happy when I know when United have won.”

October 31st 2009: “United fans shouldn’t worry too much about the team. They are still a good side and have good players to come back. As for Manchester City, I can’t ever see them being as big as United. United have all the tradition and you cannot make history in two or three years irrespective of how much money you have. City simply cannot buy what United have. I don’t know if they tried to get me but I wouldn’t play for any other English club but United.”

April 24th 2012: “Of course I miss Manchester. I especially miss the apple crumble and custard they served at Carrington after training — it was amazing!”

May 18th 2012: “I had a bet that Manchester United would win the league but I lost. I feel very disappointed because United are still in my heart. City have a fantastic team now, but I think Manchester will carry on being kings of England.”

November 25th 2012: “There are three or four teams who can perhaps win the league, which is why it is the most competitive anywhere in the world. It will be tough for every team but I think United will do it this year and win their title back. It won’t be easy and it will be very close, but United are stronger in attack this season and that could be the difference.”

February 3rd 2013: “Madrid and United are the two biggest clubs in the world and it’s a real 50-50. It could go either way. Manchester was my home and still is in my heart. I love it. Because when people treat you very well you never forget that. And I will never forget United, the people who work there and the supporters. So I am so happy to be going back to Manchester.”

February 13th 2013: “To play for City not United? I’m not going to do that. Why? Because my heart’s in Manchester United, that’s why. I can say it would be very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very difficult to play at Manchester City. Very difficult because of Manchester United.”

On Ferguson

June 21st 2009: “I have said many times that it is the relationship a son has with a father. He taught me everything about football and I have never met a man who is so passionate about the game after so many years. He instilled that passion into me and he made me a winner. The most important thing he taught me is that second place is not an option. He also taught me lots of things in order to make me a better person and people might not understand how much time he invests in players off the pitch. But he really does and he cares about each and every one of us. In an ideal world, I would like him to be my life coach and for me to never leave him but that is not possible and I just have to continue my journey and hold on to what he has taught me. Sir Alex has shown so much confidence in me and for that I owe him everything. When I arrived – even though I did not want it – he insisted I have number seven on my shirt. I was very adamant that I did not want it. Then, he sat me down and told me about the history of the number seven and said…’do you understand what I am trying to say to you? I think you will be worthy of wearing this shirt.’ When I think of the greats who have worn that United shirt, I understood how much confidence he had in me. And I hope now that I am another Manchester United great who wore the most famous shirt at the club.”

July 2nd 2009: “I will miss the boss. Sir Alex has taught me so much on and off the field. I could not have asked for a better mentor. I will always owe him a lot and will never forget him. He made me aware from the start that I would be one of the best players in the world; he gave me that belief. When you are 17, you are just concerned about playing first-team football – you don’t think about being the best, but Sir Alex gave me the No 7 shirt because he believed I could do it justice. I can never repay the confidence he has shown in me over the years, and all the support he has given me in my journey to become the best.”

July 8th 2009: “Ferguson is a maestro. For me he was my father in football. He was crucial in my career and, outside football, was a great human being with me. Talent isn’t everything. You can have it from the cradle, but it is necessary to learn the trade to be the best. When I arrived in England I was an 18-year-old kid and had established stars by my side. Ferguson taught me to clean up my faults, to know to give the pass at the last moment, to take the right decision in the area.”

November 6th 2011: “Sir Alex has a special place in my life. In fact, he was the main man. I was not famous, I was not a star. I arrived at Old Trafford as just another young talent. He was the one who told me to do all the right things. He gave me the opportunity to play in one of the biggest clubs in the world. So he is one of the most important people in the world for me. I worked with Sir Alex for a few years and I know he deserves ­everything that he has achieved in his career. He works so hard, he is clever, he has experience, he is a human guy.”

November 25th 2012: “I met Alex Ferguson on the day of the game, he came to our hotel in Manchester to speak with Jose Mourinho. Of course I talked to him as well. We keep in touch. It was nice to see him again. We just talked about his times with Manchester United and mine with Real Madrid. We were just happy to see each other.”

On United fans

June 21st 2009: “I really could not have asked for any more from them. 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.”

August 28th 2009: “I did not get a chance to say goodbye to the fans but I hope they know that I enjoyed every moment playing at Old Trafford and would like to thank them for their support throughout the years. Even in the most difficult times I have always felt their support.”

December 30th 2009: “We know that we have the duty to put on a show but sometimes it’s not possible. We always try but at times the team are not playing well and the fans could give us more support. The Manchester United fans, for example, were very intimidating for Liverpool or Manchester City in those matches. I think that if our supporters tried to do that it would be much better for everyone and would give the players a big boost.”

On a United return

February 14th 2010: “Of course I miss playing for Manchester United. I played there for six years and that’s a long time. I am still interested in watching Manchester United and, you never know, maybe in the future I could return to play there. It’s always possible. I want to fulfil my contract here but, in the future, only God knows. I will not say I am not happy here at Real Madrid. I am really happy and everyone knows this is my club but, of course, I miss Manchester United, the boss, the players, because I left family there.”

November 14th 2010: “To be honest I miss the Premier League a lot. Of course I have good memories about Manchester. I have good friends there and I miss them a lot, so you never know.”

September 6th 2011: “I don’t close the door, so maybe in the future I hope so, because I know the league, I know the players, I know the atmosphere. Why not? I hope so one day, but you never know.”

May 18th 2012: “The future? Nobody knows. But I feel very happy here. It’s a great club, fantastic fans… it’s great. In one year or two you never know. A man’s head is always complicated.”

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