August 2003 – Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United travelled to Portugal to play Sporting in the inaugural game of Estádio José Alvalade and came out as the second best from the game. They did lose with a thumping margin of 3-1, but in the process they witnessed a star in the making.
The 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo was on the field and was cruising past the United defenders with absolute ease which caught the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson and the Scot, eventually, decided to make a move. Ronaldo, who earlier had a meet with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal for a potential move, decided to move to Old Trafford in 2003 for a reported fee of £12.24 million to become the most expensive teenager in the sport – at that time and the rest that followed was marked as antiquity.
"There have been a few players described as 'the new George Best' over the years, but this is the first time it's been a compliment to me."
This was quoted by George Best himself and when something like this happens, you know we were about to experience an artistry.
Ronaldo requested his old number 28 for his jersey, but Ferguson decided to hand him the legendary number 7. His first couple of seasons were quite mediocre, but what followed next was an absolute treat to the eyes.
He was a complete revelation in his fourth season with United as despite being a winger, he banged 23 goals in all competitions and help his side to life the Premier League crown – his first. The following season was one his best as he scored 42 goals in all competitions and lifted his very first Champions League trophy – in the same season the Premier League was also followed and Ronaldo won his first
His exploits caught the attention of Real Madrid, who at that time, were looking for a major over haul and eventually after so much of hustle and bustle, Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid and became the then most-expensive transfer of all time.
He was bang on in his first season in La Liga, but the Galacticos failed to lift any major honour. A Copa del Rey was followed in the next season and La Liga after that. Ronaldo, till date, has 22 trophies - including four Champions League titles (one with United and three with Real) - on club level and during his tenure so far, he has won five Ballon d’Or.
Known for his complete dominance on the field, Ronaldo is simply one of the best players in the sport. He is a complete package and a true leader in all sense. Fast as lightning, strong as a rock, Ronaldo is an example in himself.