Rio Ferdinand has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo once left John O’Shea “needing an oxygen tank” after a brutal 45 minutes.
Ronaldo joined Manchester United in 2003 after breaking through as a teenager with Sporting Lisbon.
United famously traveled to Portugal to play Sporting in a pre-season friendly that year.
And that is where Ronaldo really peaked the interest of Sir Alex Ferguson as he ran poor utility defender O’Shea ragged for a whole half of football, leaving him "in bits".
Ferdinand then revealed how it came about that Ferguson made sure to snap him up straight after the game, delaying the whole travelling squad.
As part of EA SPORTS and COPA90's 'Stay Home. Play Together' campaign, Ferdinand told current England stars Mason Mount and Declan Rice : "We played against Sporting in 2003, we get in at half-time and John O'Shea must've needed an oxygen tank next to him.
"He was in bits and he was sitting there panting. We were telling him to get closer to Ronaldo and he couldn't even answer us.
"To be fair, me, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were standing there going 'this kid's unbelievable, we've got to sign him'.
"We got on the coach and we were delayed for about an hour and a half, and then they said they were doing a deal to sign Ronaldo now."
Talks had already begun ahead of their friendly, but clearly impressed at seeing Ronaldo first-hand, Ferguson was sure to get a deal over the line it seems.
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It’s thought that the Scot was open to the idea of allowing Ronaldo another year at his boyhood club, but decided against it given his ability already.
United face Leeds on Sunday at 2pm knowing a win would give them some real breathing space in the battle for a Champions League place.
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