Cristiano Ronaldo was signed by Manchester United after the 2002-03 season and he had an excellent career at the club where he won a number of trophies. He was sold for £80million after the 2008-09 season to Real Madrid.
“Yes Manchester was a very good cycle for me,” Ronaldo said, with a big smile on his face.
“I won everything there. It was a fantastic part of my life there.
“And maybe it was the time I enjoyed my football the most because I was so young.
“To be at Manchester United — one of the biggest clubs in the world — at just 18! It was a dream!
“And to play alongside those players you had only seen before on television — maybe that’s why I feel I enjoyed it there the most.”
Ronaldo, to avoid generating new rumours, added, “I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it here in Madrid — I do.
“But I’m older now, more mature. I’m not a dreamer any more like I was when I was young.
“I’m 28 now so I’m not at the beginning any more. I’m middle-aged!”
Ronaldo laughed out loud on this and said, “It’s true – I am middle aged in football years”
Ronaldo has scored 179 goals in 178 games for the Spanish champions. His record at United was not that bad either – 118 goals in a 292 games in all competitions.
Ronado was asked if he is twice as good as he was at United, to which he replied, “No, the statistics have changed because I am more mature and I have learned some things.
“With that maturity you actually do more things for the team rather than for yourself. But I still try to score as many goals as I can although I also try to give a lot of assists.
“You also have to realise that the football here is different, the team is different. Many things here are different.”
Speaking of the clash with United, he was reminded of Sir Alex Ferguson, whom he calls his footballing father.
Ronaldo revealed: “I arrived at United aged just 18 years old and he taught me how to grow up properly in the football world.
“Who better? He has so much experience — 1,000 players have passed through his hands.
“So he knows and appreciates what young players need.
“And what he taught me was the importance of decision making.
“How important it is to make the right decisions on the pitch and off it.
“That’s why I say he was like a father to me.
“He taught me everything, he helped me so much, guided me on so many important things.
“That was in football and in life because his influence and interest doesn’t stop at the touchlines. He cares about you as an individual.
“He is a very human person who understands what you want and what you need.
“I remember one day in my first season and we came to Christmas and, of course, there is no winter break in England.
“I asked him: ‘Coach can you give me three or four days to go home to Portugal?’
“And straight away he said: ‘OK no problem.’
“He knew I was very important to the team but he also knew at that time I needed my family so much and that was a very important moment for me.
“I realised he understood and he cared.
“Sometimes when you asked him for something you didn’t get an answer instantly.
“He would say: ‘Let me think about it.’ And then next day he would give you his answer – yes or no.
“Even if it was a ‘no’ there was a reason and an explanation.
“He knows how to treat people well, how to make you happy, how to motivate you.
“He has that in abundance and it works because it’s real — it comes from inside him.
“So I owe him a lot. That’s why I keep in touch and that’s why it will be great to see him.”
However, this will not stop him from scoring against his former club.
Ronaldo added: “The Champions League is very special at Madrid because we want to win a 10th European title.
“For me it is the pinnacle. There are so many memorable matches that remain in the minds of the players and the fans.
“And I want to make my contribution, I want to leave my mark.”
However, things will not be easy when both the teams play against each other on Wednesday.