Sir Alex Ferguson has labelled Cristiano Ronaldo as ‘the most gifted player’ the Scot coached during his time at Manchester United.
Written in the former manager’s autobiography which was released today, the legendary former United Coach claimed that only Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes could be placed anywhere near the Real Madrid man.
“Cristiano was the most gifted player I managed,” Ferguson wrote. “He surpassed all the other great ones I coached at United – and I had many.
“The only ones who could be placed near him would be a couple of the home-produced players, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, because they contributed so prodigiously to Manchester United for two decades.”
Despite this, it was Ferguson that agreed to let him head to Spain, when Los Blancos broke the world transfer record for the second time in the summer of 2009 following the £56m acquisition of Kaka.
The 71-year-old explained that the signing was a symbol of the Santiago Bernabeu side’s self-requirement to dominate all other teams, and Ferguson reveals that it was the Portuguese winger himself who tried to force through a move the year before.
“Real Madrid paid £80m in cash for him [in 2009] and do you know why?” continued Ferguson. “It was a way for Florentino Perez, their President, to say to the world: 'We are Real Madrid, we are the biggest of the lot.'
“Ramon Calderon, Perez's predecessor, had claimed the previous year that Cristiano would one day be a Real Madrid player.
“I went to Carlos Queiroz's house in Portugal to find the boy expressing an urge to go to Real Madrid, and told him: 'You can't go this year, not after the way Calderon has approached this issue'. I said: 'I know you want to go to Real Madrid but I'd rather shoot you than sell you to that guy now. If you perform, don't mess us about, and someone comes and offers a world record fee, then we will let you go’.
“I did well to calm him down. I told him the reason I was refusing to sell him that year was because of Calderon,” he explained.
“I said: 'If I do that, my honour's gone, everything's gone for me, and I don't care if you have to sit in the stands. I know it won't come to that, but I just have to tell you I will not let you leave this year'.”