Gary Neville shares heartfelt message ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Man Utd return

Solskjaer confirms Cristiano Ronaldo will feature against Newcastle

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Gary Neville has taken to social media to re-post an article he wrote about Cristiano Ronaldo in 2012. Ronaldo is set to make his second Manchester United debut when they host Newcastle United today.

The Portugal international first signed for United in 2003 when Sir Alex Ferguson took him to Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon.

The forward took time to adapt to the English game and came in for heavy criticism during the early part of his United career.

But as Ronaldo matured, he found his way and started to become an influential figure in Manchester.

His Man Utd career nearly came to an abrupt end after being involved in an incident which saw club team-mate Wayne Rooney sent off for England against Portugal at the 2006 World Cup.

But Ronaldo returned from the tournament to establish himself as one of the most revered players in United’s history.

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The 36-year-old departed for Real Madrid in 2009 before joining Juventus in 2018. He returned to Old Trafford this summer amid a rapturous fanfare.

Neville, who played alongside Ronaldo for six years, took to Twitter to post his thoughts from nine years ago.

“I remember when he came back from the 2006 World Cup with all that controversy with the Wayne Rooney red card,” Neville wrote.

“When he had come to the club he was this thin, wiry boy. Now he was a light-heavyweight.

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“He’d been on the weights over the summer and it was like watching someone grow up in a matter of weeks.

“And what ensued for the next two years was astonishing. I can’t believe anyone has seen anything as extraordinary in the Premier League.

“He completely changed my opinions about the game. I’d always been taught that I must have a right-winger in front of me. But I knew he’d go and win us the match.

“As a 27-year-old at the time, an experienced figure, I was expecting to tell this 21-year-old how it was.

“And he was telling me something completely different. I’d been playing with my blinkers on for years but he made me open my eyes to different ways of playing the game.

“He was always fascinated with becoming the best player in the world. He would have no concerns about telling us in the dressing room or the media that that was his goal.

“In England, that kind of ambition can be drummed out of you. The team ethic is so important, sometimes we stamp on such individualism.

“But he believed in the team ethic. He also believed that the team would be better if he was the world’s best.

“He changed my thinking. He showed it is possible to accommodate that kind of individual ambition within a team and marry the two together.”

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