Cristiano Ronaldo: Alex Ferguson is like a father in football to me

In first interview since rejoining Manchester United, Portuguese attacker pays tribute to his old manager

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In his first interview since rejoining Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo has paid tribute to his old manager Alex Ferguson and described him as “a father in football to me".

The 36-year-old attacker has just completed his €15 million ($17.7m) move back to United from Italian side Juventus to begin his second stint at Old Trafford.

In his first spell for the Red Devils, between 2003 and 2009, Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, and the 2008 Champions League — the same year he won the first of his five Ballon d'Ors.

Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances in his first spell at United before joining Real Madrid for a then world record €94m in 2009.

Speaking to United's official website on Wednesday, Ronaldo described his joy about being back at the club, why the move felt right and how much influence Ferguson had on his decision.

“As everybody knows, since I signed for Manchester [United] at 18, Sir Alex Ferguson was the key. I remember when we played against Manchester when I was at Sporting Lisbon,” he said.

“For me, Sir Alex Ferguson is like a father in football for me. He helped me a lot, he taught me many things, and in my opinion of course he had a big role because the relationship that we had, we keep in touch all the time, and he’s an unbelievable person.

“I really like him a lot and he was the main key for me to be in the position that I am, that I signed for Manchester United.”

When asked how he feels about being back at Old Trafford, he said: “As you know, I have a fantastic history with this amazing club. I was there at 18-years-old and of course I’m so happy to be back home after 12 years. So I’m really glad and looking forward to start my first game.

Cristiano Ronaldo with then Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson in 2005. AFP

“I think it’s the best decision that I have made it. It’s right on point in my opinion. I moved from Juve now to Manchester, it’s a new chapter, I’m so happy and glad, and I want to carry on again, to make history, to try to help Manchester achieve great results, to win trophies and number one of them, to win great things.”

Ronaldo, who is set to make his second United debut against Newcastle on September 11, also spoke about his delight at having fans back in stadiums following the relaxation of Covid-19 protocols and his “special” relationship with the Old Trafford faithful.

“Well, the fans is the key of football. Now, with all the stadiums full of supporters, it’s not the same that we had one year ago, those empty stadiums. The fans, they are the key, and I’m so glad,” said Ronaldo, who is currently away on international duty with Portugal.

“The Manchester United fans, they are special, I know, I remember very well. I know they still sing my music which has made me feel even more happy and my commitment is to give everything on the pitch, like I did before, like I do it all the time, and try to do my best, help the team score goals, make assists, win games, and I hope to see them very, very soon.”

Updated: September 01, 2021, 12:04 PM