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Cristiano Ronaldo – from one-trick pony to world’s best player

During the 2003/4 season, he managed just six goals in a United shirt


The Real Madrid star was mocked during the early days at Manchester United

There was little surprise when Cristiano Ronaldo recently lifted the Ballon d’Or to confirm what many of us already knew.

The 29-year-old continues to enjoy an upward trajectory in terms of ability and goal-scoring, with the Real Madrid man helping his team win the Champions League last season and continuing in a similar vein this term.

You have to take a second glance at the stats to double check you’re reading Ronaldo’s goal tally correctly. 205 goals in 183 games at the time of writing, making him likely to find the net every time he takes to the pitch.

It was a safe bet for Real to splash the cash in 2009 to bring the Portuguese from Old Trafford to the Bernabeu, although Manchester United fans with long memories will fondly recall a very raw player that first appeared for the Red Devils.

Indeed, Ronaldo didn’t score during his first nine United performances where he featured largely in the left-wing position, with fans unsure of his “show-pony” antics which saw the youngster attempt any number of step-overs.

Was this a player who was simply going to prove a flash-in-the-pan like several others at Manchester United, with Federico Macheda the most obvious example of someone who made a sudden appearance in the first-team before fading into obscurity?

During the 2003/4 season, he managed just six goals in a United shirt before a highly impressive showing at Euro 2004 announced him as a potential global superstar and Ronaldo ran with it the following campaign.

However, it wasn’t until the 2006/7 season that Ronaldo turned into the goal machine that we know and love / love to hate now. Sir Alex Ferguson decided the time was ripe to promote his star player into a more attacking position which saw twenty-eight goals being plundered.

It was probably the season which turned the heads of Real Madrid and the summer of 2008 saw Ferguson use all his powers of persuasion to keep Ronaldo at the English club, although the Scot gave Cristiano assurances that he was free to leave the following year providing the price was right.

The rest as they say is history and United fans will hope they get a second coming from Ronaldo within the next two or three seasons, while the player himself will be dreaming of landing that last elusive milestone achievement which is winning the World Cup with Portugal.

He clearly wasn’t fit when turning out in 2014 and will be heading to Qatar in 2018 as a 33-year-old and a veteran of the team. Given the climate in that particular country, there won’t be energy wasted on the step-overs which characterised his first season at Manchester United.