With Manchester United fans having to sit down and endure a very rough season, a very passionate fan of the club and a lover of the last meaningful player to put on the number 7 jersey of Manchester United took it upon him to draft this very touching letter to the current World best Footballer.
I am writing this letter to let you know what I feel about you. I am not attached to any other athlete as much as you. Only my love for Sir Alex Ferguson surpasses that for you, and mind you, by country miles.
How have you been lately? It seems life is all rosy for you now. You’re scoring for fun in Spain and you’re destroying teams when you travel around Europe. You’re definitely earning around twice or thrice of what you did at Old Trafford, and you have a beautiful girlfriend in Irina Shayk.
After being overshadowed by Lionel Messi in spite of your excellent performances ever since you started living your “dream” at Santiago Bernabéu, you’ve finally won the Ballon d’Or, which makes you the certified best player, although for most of us, you always were the one. What else does a footballer want in his life?
In what was utopia whenever you played for us, life is mundane at Old Trafford now. Ever since you left, it’s like the magician is gone. We, United fans, used to like the feeling of envy among the rival teams’ fans whenever you used to play. Twisting and turning and dribbling, you made your opponents slog. On your best day, which is almost every day, you are unbeatable.
When I first heard about Real Madrid coming in for you with a record £80 million bid, I knew we’d have to let you go because £80 million was a massive amount, and still is. I knew you’d push for this transfer as it had always been your “dream” to play for the Spanish giants. When the bid was accepted, I thought, “What a mercenary this guy is! Leaving the club that made him what he is today?” But I was soon proved wrong.
I am sorry to say this, but I gained schadenfreude whenever I saw Real Madrid choke. All your goals, worldly and otherwise, accounted for nothing. You won just two trophies, a La Liga and a meagre Copa del Rey. If not for the Ballon d’Or win a couple of months ago, your time with them would have been a disappointment, not in terms of goals, but in terms of accolades.
I used to watch you play even when you jumped ship. Your habit of scoring belters never left you, albeit you did so now for Real Madrid. That instantly got me reminiscent of the ones that you scored for us. Pure bliss, I tell you.
When footballers are asked about their best or favourite goal, it’s quite often very straightforward for them to answer the question. But you had a multitude of effortlessly brilliant goals scored that it’s challenging to choose one from them. So much so that even the greats, Andy Gray and Martin Tyler, must have fallen short of words for you while commentating.
My personal favourite was the one scored in the 2009 Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Porto. After the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, things looked bleak for United to stay alive in the competition. But whom did we need to turn the match on its head? It was you.
In the centre of the park stood Anderson, he passed the ball to you, you took it and ran towards the goal in your usual way. After a second or two, you shot the ball from 40 yards out. Time stood still. And in a few seconds, the ball went inside the net, giving the keeper no chance. Who even attempts to shoot from 40 yards out, let alone rides his luck on that going in? What you did was magic.
Even at the age of 23, you were wreaking havoc in the Premier League. You made this league your own. You set a standard for the goals you scored. Your touches – sublime, your runs – blistering, your free kicks – breathtaking. Oh, God! I fall short of superlatives already.
Whenever the media speculated about your future, you always said that Manchester was your home and that there was nowhere else to go. You were instrumental in bringing the 18th league title for us. Each of us thought you’d spend the best years of your life, which the football pundits refer to as ‘the prime’ (25-30 years), at United. However, it remained a sort of if only’s.
Just months ago, your face was sprawled across Santiago Bernabeu north stand and thousands of cardboard masks were handed out to supporters of your quest for Ballon d’Or glory. Following your win came a standing ovation from 80,000 as the trophy was paraded. Fast forward to a few weekends, you were suffering the wrath of the same people who adulated you not so long ago.
The Madrid fans booed you even when the team was comfortably winning 5-0 against Rayo Vallecano; the reason being you not passing the ball to Morata for his tap-in, but you going all alone for the goal. How can someone be so fickle? Are Madridistas such a hard bunch to please, like their President Florentino Perez who brings in and disposes players and managers alike for fun?
This, for once, would never happen at Old Trafford even in your nightmares. Even when you’re not here, your name is chanted every week when United play. “Viva Ronaldo. Running down the wing, hear United sing. Viva Ronaldo.” It’s as if you never left this place.
For a kid earning less than a hundred quid at Lisbon, Sir brought you to the Theatre of Dreams. Even when you didn’t have the confidence to wear the #7 jersey, he was the one to have faith in you. For a teenager who was anonymous to the world until you signed for us, Fergie gave you the best platform to shine on the highest stage in club football. He gave you your début as an 18-year-old against Bolton. Even in the cameo that you played against Bolton, you won the hearts of the United faithful with your step-overs, and your runs past the opponents. The 75,000 odd crowd inside Old Trafford were witnessing a prodigy in action.
With a contract signed until 2015 with Real Madrid and with two years left on your contract, we were hoping you’d come to us last summer after Fergie’s departure. But you broke our hearts once again when you signed an extension until 2018. This made me revisit my previous thought of you being a mercenary. You have no idea how bad I feel to not see you in red. They absolutely ripped us off by paying £80 million. Even that seems a bargain now.
Whenever I think about the last 16 tie against Real Madrid last season, I always feel hard done by the incorrect red card decision against Nani; though all wasn’t over in the match as we were still leading. But when I saw you score the second goal for your team to knock us out, I sat still on my couch. You raised your arms in apology with no expression on your face. I didn’t know what to feel. Mixed emotions of admiration, fondness, and pain ran through my veins. I had a huge lump in my throat.
Now, after five years of your departure, the club has another wunderkind in its ranks in the name of Adnan Januzaj. In what has been a season in which we have hit rock bottom for the first time in the Premier League era, he has given us a glimmer of hope that not everything is over at the club as yet. When I close my eyes, he reminds me of a skinny you who took centre stage a decade ago. That ability to take on players and that desire to work his socks off can be seen in him.
But my only fear is that Real Madrid or any other rich club will come calling from overseas, just as they did for you, and pay the mighty amount for him, and we’ll have no choice but to let go of him.
Yes, we might not have the appeal of working under the living legend, that Fergie is, anymore; we might not have the capability to put you on our payroll, considering the mammoth wages that you are on; we might not have a star-studded starting eleven that would tear teams apart.
But here I am, hoping that you’d return one day to the club that made you; the club that stood by you even in your darkest times (read post World Cup 2006 with the whole Rooney sending off vs Portugal incident); the club that keeps singing your name week in and week out even with you playing for a club that is miles away.
Such is your status. I am not the one who would even stand close to the people having the ‘Ronaldo vs Messi’ debate. And why should I? Because there’s no debate. You’re simply the best for me.
I could go on and on talking to you about what I feel for you. The love and respect that I have for you only adds to it. Even if you never return to us any day, I won’t hate you. It can be a case of us not affording you or you not wanting to be the best player in an average team when you have a star-studded lineup to play with week in and week out. Also, with the way things are going for us, I think we’ll be a mediocre team for another 3-4 years, which gives you another reason to not come to us.
Despite all this, I, for one, fervently believe that you would return sooner or later. If you have even a thousandth of emotions and respect that we have for you, nothing in this world will stand between you and us. With “Viva Ronaldo. Running down the wing, hear United sing” chanted every week, we live with an anticipation that it’s just a matter of time and that you’ll belong to us in the future.
Here’s me living with the hope that one fine day, the news of “Cristiano Ronaldo makes a sensational return to Manchester United” will flash across all the news channels, newspapers, social networking websites, and God knows where. As The Shawshank Redemption quotes – “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” I want to follow this and till that dream of mine approaches reality, I will wait, as I have been, for the last five years.
Come home soon, Ronny. The doors of Old Trafford will always be open for you.