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Inside Cristiano Ronaldo’s special bond with Sir Alex Ferguson, from winning Ballon d’Or five times to return to Man Utd

WHEN Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Manchester United as a talented 17-year-old in 2003, the wheels were set in motion for one of football’s special bonds. But few would believe that his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a father-figure to the 36-year-old Portuguese superstar, would aid his return to the club that made him nearly 20 […] ...

WHEN Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Manchester United as a talented 17-year-old in 2003, the wheels were set in motion for one of football’s special bonds.

But few would believe that his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a father-figure to the 36-year-old Portuguese superstar, would aid his return to the club that made him nearly 20 years later.

The moment Sir Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo met a special bond formed
The moment Sir Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo met a special bond formed
Getty Images – Getty
Sir Alex congratulates Ronaldo for winning Euro 2016
Sir Alex congratulates Ronaldo for winning Euro 2016
Getty – Contributor

In the summer, it seemed nailed on that the all-time leading international goalscorer would sign for United arch-rivals Manchester City.

However, Fergie revealed he stepped in to stop that from happening.

“A lot of people played their part (in bringing Ronaldo back) and I contributed knowing that really Cristiano wanted to come here and that was important,” he told Viaplay before the ex-Real Madrid star made his Old Trafford return.

Ronaldo, himself, acknowledged the manager’s contribution. “PS — Sir Alex, this one is for you…” he wrote in a social meda post celebrating his move from Juventus.

Now, the fiery Scot has said Ronaldo deserves a sixth Ballon d’Or title, after his goalscoring exploits for club and country.

Through the years, Fergie has been credited with making him the player he is today. Sparing him the infamous hairdryer treatment, Fergie filled Ronaldo’s head with confidence – giving him the freedom that allowed him to become a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

The “Boss”, as Ronaldo affectionately calls him, was even there for his protege’s most famous moment for his country – winning Euro 2016 – giving him a hug from the stands as he collected his winners’ medal.

Their father/son relationship has blossomed through the years, so much so it was recently revealed that Ronaldo was set for a sensational return to Old Trafford until Fergie’s retirement in 2013 halted a deal.

FAN BOY

After Sir Alex retired, he enjoyed going to live events – from the Oscars to various European finals.

At Euro 2016, Fergie was in the stands to watch Portugal defeat France 1-0 after extra-time.

As the Portuguese players walked down the steps after receiving their medals, a proud Ferguson embraced Ronaldo and gave him a huge hug.

Then, a year later he was a special guest at the 2017 Champions League final, in which Ronaldo won man of the match and scored twice in a 4-1 rout of Juventus.

Of course, it was Fergie that give him his award that night.

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Ronaldo is given his man of the match award by Sir Alex after the Champions League final in 2017
Ronaldo is given his man of the match award by Sir Alex after the Champions League final in 2017
AP:Associated Press

FAMILY COMES FIRST

Back in 2005, as Ronaldo was beginning to establish himself at Old Trafford, his father Jose Dinis Aveiro fell ill in hospital after years of alcohol abuse.

Immediately, Fergie ordered him to take compassionate leave – even though it meant his star player would miss key games during the season.

“When my daddy was sick in London, and he was in hospital very bad in a coma,” Ronaldo  revealed Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success’ in 2015.

“I had a conversation with him [Ferguson] and I said: ‘Boss, I don’t feel good.’

“We are in a key moment in the Champions League, and I said I don’t feel good and I wanna see my dad. He said: ‘Cristiano – you wanna go one day, two days, one week? You can go. I’m going to miss you here because you are important, but your daddy is the [priority].’

“When he told me that, I feel like this guy is unbelievable. He the father of football for me.”

As the years have passed their relationship has been akin to a father and son
As the years have passed their relationship has been akin to a father and son
Getty – Contributor
Fergie ordered Ronaldo to take compassionate leave when his father was on his death bed
Fergie ordered Ronaldo to take compassionate leave when his father was on his death bed
Getty Images – Getty

RED HERRING

Fergie knew Ronaldo’s dream was to play for Real Madrid, and he wasn’t going to stop him from joining the La Liga giants.

That said, he did try to pull a fast one when it was reported that Los Blancos were deep in talks with CR7.

“You don’t think we’d get into a contract with that mob, do you?,” Sir Alex said back in 2008.

“Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t sell them a virus. So that’s a no — there is no agreement between the clubs.”

Six months later, Ronaldo moved to Spain – with Fergie in agreement all along.

Ferguson never got in the way of Ronaldo's dream to play for Real Madrid
Ferguson never got in the way of Ronaldo’s dream to play for Real Madrid
AFP – Getty
Ronaldo and Ferguson embrace at the end of a Champions League match between Man Utd and Real Madrid in 2013
Ronaldo and Ferguson embrace at the end of a Champions League match between Man Utd and Real Madrid in 2013
Getty Images – Getty

A FITTING TRIBUTE

In 2012, at the unveiling of a statue of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, Ronaldo made an appearance by video link to pay tribute to his former boss.

He began by apologising for not being there in person because of his hectic schedule.

“I think you 100 per cent deserve it for what we did with you,” Ronaldo continued in the clip.

He even joked, “I hope to see you soon, because I need to practice my English, not my Scottish!”

Sir Alex and Ronaldo have always been happy to praise one another
Sir Alex and Ronaldo have always been happy to praise one another
Getty Images – Getty

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SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR

In 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson was the special recipient of the BBC Sports Personality Diamond Award for the show’s 60th edition.

Again, Ronaldo took to video link to heap praise on Sir Alex.

“You were like a football father to me,” Cristiano said.

“You deserve this award because you are a fantastic manager, a fantastic person and the number one.”

Ronaldo has referred to Fergie in the past as his football father
Ronaldo has referred to Fergie in the past as his football father
Getty – Contributor

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FILM STAR

In 2015, Cristiano Ronaldo’s amazing life made it to the big screen.

He opened himself up to the world in his documentary ‘Ronaldo’ – which Fergie wasn’t going to miss for the world.

The Scot stood side-by-side with Ronaldo on the red carpet for its premiere in London.

Both beaming with pride, Ronaldo and Fergie looked like father and son.

Sir Alex Ferguson stood side-by-side with Ronaldo at the premiere of his documentary
Sir Alex Ferguson stood side-by-side with Ronaldo at the premiere of his documentary
Getty – Contributor
Again, the pair couldnt hide their affection for one another
Again, the pair couldn’t hide their affection for one another

MESSAGE OF SUPPORT

When Sir Alex suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2018, Ronaldo and the whole footballing world were praying that he would pull through.

Taking to Instagram, Ron shared an image of them together with the caption: “My thoughts and prayers are with you, my dear friend. Be strong, Boss!”

Ferguson made a miraculous recovery and the pair met up when Juventus played Manchester United at Old Trafford.

“A great coach and above all a wonderful man,” Ronaldo shared with a photo in a tweet.

“Taught me so many things inside and outside the pitch. Great to see you in good shape, Boss!”

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TEAR-JERKER

Last year, Ronaldo won the Portuguese Player of the Year award for a record 10th time.

It was Fergie’s time to record a moving video message for his former student.

“Congratulations on a great achievement and a wonderful night you’re going to have in Portugal,” Ferguson said in the clip.

“I’m really sorry I can’t be with you, but I look back and see you as a young lad at 17 years of age who came to Manchester United, how you have progressed as a human being and a fantastic sportsman.

Ronaldo receives the 2008 Ballon Dor from Ferguson
Ronaldo receives the 2008 Ballon D’or from Ferguson
Offside
Fergie has revealed he is eternally proud of the man Ronaldo became when he left Man Utd
Fergie has revealed he is eternally proud of the man Ronaldo became when he left Man Utd
Times Newspapers Ltd

“I want to say to you, and your mother, and all your family, and all of your kids; well done.

You have been an absolute pleasure for me to have known, to have worked with, and to have seen you progress into the footballer you were.

“So, good luck, have a great night, and well done.”

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