DANNY MURPHY: I’ve witnessed the hunger that made Ronaldo a legend
I’ve witnessed the hunger that made a legend… I never thought Cristiano Ronaldo would go on to achieve what he did for Real Madrid and Portugal
- Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Tuesday
- During a match at Fulham in 2009 he gave me insight into what made him great
- Ronaldo lunged with bad tackle that could have got me injured and him red card
- To prevent getting him into trouble, I offered him a handshake but he ignored it
- It infuriated me at time but looking back I can see it’s because he cared so much
Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Tuesday night. I played against him seven times in England and, for all his special ability, it was another type of incident that gave me an insight into what made him an all-time great.
In 2009, Manchester United came to Fulham and we beat them 2-0.
I scored the first goal with a penalty, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney were sent off for them, and in total frustration Ronaldo lunged at me with a bad tackle that could have got me injured and him a red card. As it happens, I managed to dodge the worst of it and, to prevent getting him into trouble, I offered him a handshake to say ‘It’s OK, no harm done’.
Danny Murphy (left) closes down Cristiano Ronaldo in Fulham’s win over Man United in 2009
He ignored my hand and kept moaning! It infuriated me at the time but looking back I can see it’s because he cared so much.
Ronaldo was always a talent but when we played United, they had so many great players we couldn’t single him out. Though he reached new levels for the last couple of seasons under Sir Alex Ferguson, I never thought he’d go on to achieve what he did for Real Madrid and Portugal.
That’s a credit to his professionalism, hunger and desire as much as ability, which only goes so far.
I never thought Ronaldo would go on to achieve what he did for Real Madrid and Portugal
For him and Lionel Messi to keep on scoring the amount of goals they do every year is simply phenomenal. I’m sure he’ll get a big ovation from United fans on his return. He’s 33 now but his standards haven’t dropped. He has put so much work into being in perfect physical condition.
I was in the stadium at the World Cup for his hat-trick against Spain.
I’d never seen him put a shift in like that. When he stepped up to take the late equalising free-kick, I put my Liverpool-United rivalries aside to say ‘He deserves to score’ — and of course he did.
He’s 33 now but his standards haven’t dropped – I was in stadium for his hat-trick against Spain
My eight-year-old son Ethan is a big Ronaldo fan. He’s got the Juventus kit already and, with it being half-term, he’ll want to stay up and watch the United game. What’s nice for me is that because I played against Ronaldo, he asks if I’m a football legend as well.
I told him: “No Ethan, Daddy is not a legend, Ronaldo is a football legend!” My teams actually managed to beat Ronaldo in my first and last games against him — but lost the five in between.
In the first match against Liverpool at Old Trafford, he was booked for throwing the ball away after not being awarded a free-kick, and I scored the only goal of the game from the spot.
By the time I went back to United’s ground three years later with Fulham, he was entering world-class territory and scored both goals in a 2-0 win for them. What he’s gone on to achieve in the game since then is astonishing.
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