Sir Alex Ferguson autobiography: 'Cristiano Ronaldo was the greatest player I ever worked with'

Manager says Portuguese surpassed all of the other players he coached

Sir Alex Ferguson has labelled Cristiano Ronaldo as “the most gifted player” that he worked with during his career, praising the winger that he sold for £80m as a “great” that only a select few could get close to.

Written in his book which was released today, the legendary former Manchester United manager claimed that only Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes could be placed anywhere near Ronaldo out of all the players he worked with.

“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 Real broke the world transfer record for the second time in the summer of 2009 following the £56m acquisition of Kaka.

The Scot explains that the signing was a symbol of Real’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’.”

Having dealt with transfer dilemmas throughout his illustrious career – not just player sales but also players he wanted to buy – Ferguson accepted that he did well to persuade Ronaldo to remain at Old Trafford for one more year.

“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'.”

Further reading...

Sir Alex on…turning down the England job twice

Sir Alex on...the end of his relationship with David Beckham

Sir Alex on...Beckham and that flying boot

Sir Alex on... Rock Of Gibraltar 'misunderstanding'

Sir Alex’s reign in pictures

My Autobiography: the key observations

Sir Alex on...the ‘battle of the buffet’ after Arsenal victory

Sir Alex on… Rafa Benitez turning their rivalry personal

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions