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

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there