Ronaldo fancied a new challenge

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The Independent Online

Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed it was Manchester United's Champions League success last season which sparked his desire to join Real Madrid.

The Portuguese winger yesterday confirmed he will remain at Old Trafford for next season at least.

He had previously made it clear he favoured a move to Spain, which created the most high-profile transfer saga of the summer.

Ronaldo revealed the chance to be nearer to his family in Portugal was one factor pulling him towards the Spanish capital, and that in winning the Champions League title he had achieved everything possible in his five years with United.

He told Portuguese newspaper Publico: "After we'd won the Champions League, I felt that in five years I had helped win everything there was to win.

"We'd won the Premier League twice and I'd won a host of individual awards, including the best goalscorer in the Premier League, Champions League and in Europe. So, I felt that maybe I needed a new challenge.

"I never hid the fact that I wanted to play in Spain, at Real Madrid in particular, and I thought this could be the right moment. Manchester United and Real are probably the two biggest clubs in the world and it would never be an easy decision to make."

Ronaldo was adamant the chance to be the world's most expensive player and receive a wage increase at Madrid was not an issue.

"I knew that there would always someone who'd say that my main concern was making more money," he said.

"Others would insist that my vanity couldn't resist being linked to the biggest transfer fee of all time at the age of 23.

"Of course I proud to see my work recognised, but none of this had any major effect on what I wanted. In fact, if it was just a question of money, I would never leave Manchester United."

Ronaldo is confident he will not get a bad reception from United fans.

"It's possible but I hope it doesn't happen," he said.

"I know I'm a good professional, I know that no-one's harder on me than myself and that's never going to change, under any circumstances.

"The high point of my career was winning the Champions League. No-one will ever erase that from my memory, in the same way that no-one will ever erase the fact that I did it in a Manchester United shirt.

"What I said publicly, which was maybe a little naive, I take total responsibility for."

Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster believes it is a "shame" that Ronaldo has decided to stay in England, but has urged his club to put the matter behind them and focus on the squad already in place.

The Spanish champions had been involved in a persistent and very public pursuit of Ronaldo all summer.

At one point United even reported Real to Fifa, such was their annoyance with officials at the Bernabeu, but the player's latest comments have surely ended the speculation until next May at least.

"You have to respect his decision," admitted Schuster.

"He was free to do what he wanted and it's a shame that he isn't coming to us because he's a player who would really have improved this great group.

"But hey, it doesn't matter. We've got a great group to get started on an important league campaign and fight for all the objectives we've set.

"It's a decision we have to accept."

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