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

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