• Premier League

Ferguson: Ronaldo was loyal to United

ESPN staff
December 21, 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted Cristiano Ronaldo was not disloyal when he left Manchester United for Real Madrid in 2009.

Ronaldo wrote his name into Old Trafford folklore during a prolific six-year spell at the club, transforming from frustrating teenager to world beater under the tutelage of Ferguson and picking up eight major trophies with the Red Devils.

Despite leaving United for the Bernabeu in a record £80 million move in 2009, the Portugal international is still adored by United fans, who are certain to give him a rousing reception on his return to Manchester on March 5 when the two sides meet in the Champions League.

Reflecting on welcoming his former star turn back to United, Ferguson said: "It will be fantastic to have him back... When he comes on to the pitch at Old Trafford he will get a great reception, quite rightly.

"After that they can boo him as much as they like. You have to remember, he came here at 17 and developed himself into a great footballer.

"We are proud of the part we played in his career. To get six years out of a boy when he comes to us at 17, we have done very well.

"He always had a hankering to go to Real Madrid at some point in his career and we helped him on that way. It wasn't disloyalty. I got another year out of him when he wanted go the previous year.

"He honoured that and did fantastic for us and then went with our blessing. My way of looking at it was that we were lucky to have him for six years. The United fans would share that."

And should Ronaldo score against his former club in either leg of the Champions League tie, he has promised to remain respectful to his former employers.

Ronaldo has previously upheld a vow not to celebrate, staying silent after scoring the winner in both home and away matches against his boyhood club Sporting Lisbon in the 2007-08 Champions League group stage when playing for United.

"I won't celebrate if I score against United," Ronaldo told AS. "I still speak with Ferguson. I miss him a lot, and I miss Manchester United. I felt very good there, it was like a family.

"I had six great years there and am still friends with my team-mates. It is thanks to Manchester United that I am here playing for Real Madrid. Without them, I wouldn't be the player I am today."

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