On this day 17 years ago: United signed a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest was history

On this very day 17 years ago, Manchester United made arguably their best ever signing when Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Reds from Sporting Lisbon for just a little over £12m. 

Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford at the tender age of 18, looking fresh faced and oozing confidence he wasted no time settling in at one of the biggest clubs in world football.

Just four days after his arrival and armed with the famous number seven shirt, young Ronaldo made his debut in the Premier League after he came on as a substitute in his side’s 4-0 win over Bolton Wanders.

The red shirt hung from the teenager and with thick white tape wrapped around his ankles, Ronaldo set the world alight as he single handedly tore Bolton’s defence to shreds.

Ronaldo’s 30 minute debuting cameo was one of the best professional debuts ever seen and later earned praise from the likes of George Best who hailed the performance as “undoubtedly the most exciting debut” he had ever seen, as quoted by Sabotage Times.

The Portuguese sensation went from strength to strength under the guidance of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson who he has always viewed as a footballing father figure.

Forming part of one of the most exciting United attacking lines in history, Ronaldo, alongside Wayne Rooney were responsible for scoring one of the most devastating counter-attacking goals in the clubs history in a move which saw United beat rivals Arsenal 3-1 in the 2009 Champions League semi-final.

Ronaldo’s time at United saw him help guide the Reds to three consecutive Premier League titles (2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09), an FA Cup (2003-04), two League Cups (2005-06 and 2008-09), a Community Shield (2007), a FIFA Club World Cup (2008) and most famously a Champions League (2007-08).

At the age of just 23, Ronaldo won his first ever Ballon d’Or title as his legacy really began to take shape.

The summer of 2009 saw Ronaldo make a stunning switch to Spanish giants Real Madrid in a £84.60m transfer which, at the time, was a world record.

Ronaldo’s departure from the Reds paved the way for him to become arguably the best player to ever grace a football pitch as he went onto score 450 goals and set up another 133 in 438 appearances for Los Blancos.

Now at the age of 35, it is almost impossible for the United faithful to foresee a reunion with club legend Ronaldo, however, during his six years at United, the moments which saw the Portuguese attacker lift Old Trafford to their feet will go down as some of the moments in the club’s history.

Read more: Four Man United players dominate list of Premier League stars to increase in value

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