What are Ronaldo's team-mates doing now since his Man Utd debut?

One is Red Devils manager, one player founded a rum drinks company while another is playing in the Swiss fifth tier for an amateur side! What are Cristiano Ronaldo’s team-mates up to now since his Manchester United debut against Bolton in 2003?

  • Cristiano Ronaldo is now the all-time leading goalscorer in football history
  • Ronaldo achieved the feat during the Italian Super Cup final clash with Napoli
  • The 35-year-old has enjoyed a stellar career at club and international level
  • He burst on to the scene in England as a teenager at Manchester United
  • Then 18, he made his debut as a substitute during a 4-0 win over Bolton

August 16, 2003. The day Cristiano Ronaldo made his Manchester United bow and started his reign of terror upon English defences.

Then just 18, Ronaldo made his debut as a second-half substitute during a 4-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers. The Red Devils were winning 1-0 before his introduction in the 61st-minute – replacing Nicky Butt – highlighting the dazzling instant impact he made.

Ronaldo has come a long way since that day, breaking a plethora records across a stunning career for Sporting Lisbon, United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal.

With a swipe of his left foot in the Italian Super Cup final against Napoli, Cristiano Ronaldo became the highest scoring player in football history with 760 goals to his name

Ronaldo made his Manchester United debut on August 16, 2003 against Bolton Wanderers

Now 35, Ronaldo broke another on Sunday night when he became the all-time top goalscorer in football.

The Juventus star did so by finding the back of the net against Napoli in the Supercoppa Italia final on the big stage

That effort moved him above Josef Bican – with the Austrian-Czech striker scoring 759 goals between 1931 and 1955.

Ronaldo now has 760 goals in his storied career and is only bound to extend that record as he continues to shine at the top of world football.

But while the Portuguese talisman continue to re-write the record books, what happened to his United team-mates from that day at Old Trafford back on August 16, 2003? Sportsmail takes a look…

Ronaldo has now surpassed Czech-Austrian striker Josef Bican’s (above) record of 759 goals

Manchester United brought in five new faces during the 2003 summer transfer window and Howard was one of them. Like Ronaldo, he made his Premier League debut during this match and impressed as he kept a clean sheet. However, that is where the parallels stop as they both went on to have differing careers at the Theatre of Dreams.

For Howard, he never recovered at Old Trafford after his last-gasp horror error during United’s Champions League last-16 exit that season at the hands of eventual winners Porto.

He left United for Everton on loan at the start of the 2006-07 term, before it was made permanent during that campaign. He spent 10 seasons on Merseyside before he returned to America to play for MLS side Colorado Rapids.

Howard retired from football in October 2019 but made a return last March to play for Memphis 901 FC.

The 41-year-old is already part owner and sporting director of Memphis, who play in the USL Championship – the tier below Major League Soccer.

Aside from his club career, the goalkeeper won 121 caps for the USA and played at two World Cups. He also holds the record for the most saves in a World Cup game – 15 against Belgium in 2014. He retired from international football in 2017. 

Tim Howard came out of retirement last March to play for second-tier side Memphis 901 FC


Like Howard, Neville’s career after United saw him join Everton – but a season earlier in 2005-06. At Goodison Park he became captain and enjoyed eight campaigns there.

Since retiring in 2013, he has gone into management, ownership and punditry.

At the end of 2012-13 season he was part of the England Under-21 backroom staff for that summer’s U21 Euros. He then reunited with his old Everton manager David Moyes at United to become his first-team coach. In 2015 he joined Valencia – first as a coach under now-Wolves manager Nuno, and then as assistant under his older brother Gary. 

Now, he is the new manager of David Beckham’s MLS franchise Inter Miami, following his work with the England Women’s and Great Britain national team. During his role with England he guided them to fourth at the 2019 World Cup.

Aside from management he owns a 10 per cent stake in Salford City – with fellow Class of 92 alumni David Beckham, his brother Gary, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Butt – while also doing media for BBC Sport.

Now a manager, Phil Neville guided England Women to fourth at the 2019 World Cup in France


One of the starting XI that went on to become a club legend. Ferdinand, who joined the Red Devils in 2002, went on to spend 12-trophy laden years at Old Trafford before leaving in 2014.

He made 455 appearances for the Reds and scored eight goals – winning six Premier League titles, one Champions League, a FIFA Club World Cup and two League Cups along the way.

Ferdinand retired in 2015 after a one-year spell at Queens Park Rangers. Since then he has gone into the media, working for BT Sport. He also has his UK fashion label FIVE and is a mentor/ambassador for New Era Global Sports Management Limited.

Rio Ferdinand is now one of BT Sport’s main football pundits, while having other ventures too


Silvestre spent nine seasons at Old Trafford, leaving the club for Arsenal in 2008. His two years in north London were followed by a similar spell at Werder Bremen in Germany before a move to MLS side Portland Timbers. The former France international ended his career at Indian Super League outfit Chennaiyin.

The 43-year-old remains in the game and is now part of international football management agency Sports Invest UK. Silvestre is also the founder of Rhum St Barth – a rum drinks brand.

Mikael Silvestre is now part of agency Sports Invest UK and is the founder of Rhum St Barth


A squad player under Sir Alex Ferguson, Fortune was released by the club ahead of the 2006-07 campaign. There, he spent a year at Bolton Wanderers – making a handful of appearances. After leaving Bolton at the end of the season his career meandered with spells at Brescia, Belgian outfit Tubize and then at Doncaster Rovers.

Since being out of the game, Fortune has done some punditry work but it’s coaching where his true passion lies. In July 2014 he was Cardiff City’s U21 assistant coach. Five years later he was appointed in the same role for United’s U23s. The South African is now at Reading as their first-team coach, having been in the role since September. 

Quinton Fortune is now a first-team coach at Reading – having joined the club in September


Ever wonder what happened to him? Manchester United courses through the baby-faced assassin’s veins. In truth, the 2003-04 season proved to be the start of his knee injury woes.

Solskjaer missed the entirety of the next campaign due to this problem and only made five appearances in 2005-06. He returned to fitness in 2006-07 – scoring 11 times in 32 appearances for the club in what would be his final season as a player.

While towards the tail-end of his time as player, Solskjaer started his coaching badges and was appointed manager of the United Reserves in 2008. In November 2010 he was names boss of Norwegian outfit Molde – winning the country’s top-flight in 2011 and 2012 as well as the Norwegian Football Cup in 2013.

His results there saw him hired by Cardiff City in January 2014 – but that was an ill-fated spell as he failed to steer them clear of Premier League relegation.

After leaving Cardiff in September 2014 he returned to Molde 13 months later. However, he left them again in December 2018 to become United’s caretaker manager. In March 2019 he signed a three-year deal to become their permanent boss and has his side top of the Premier League at present.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now Manchester United boss after a glittering career there as a player


This would prove to the United skipper’s penultimate full season at Old Trafford. The fiery Irishman left the club abruptly in November 2005. The following month he joined boyhood club Celtic – where he ended the term with a Scottish Premier League title and League Cup.

Keane retired from football that season and soon turned his hand to management – guiding Sunderland to the Premier League in 2006-07. After leaving the Black Cats in December 2008 he took charge of Ipswich Town in April 2009 – lasting almost two years at Portman Road before he was sacked in January 2011.

Since then has been an assistant manager at the Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest.

Now the 49-year-old can be seen as a pundit on Sky Sports and ITV Sport.

Roy Keane, who captained the Red Devils vs Bolton, is now a pundit for Sky Sports and ITV


The man who made way for Ronaldo against Bolton departed United himself to join Newcastle at the end of the 2003-04 campaign. He spent six seasons at St James’ Park – which included a loan spell at Birmingham City – before he ended his career at Chinese club South China in 2011.

In 2016 he was appointed Manchester United’s Head of Academy and three years later became their Head of First-team Development.

Aside from that he owns 10 per cent of Salford as do the next two names on our list. 

Nicky Butt is United’s Head of First-team Development – being in the role since 2019


Manchester United’s most decorated player in their history, Giggs retired at the end of the 2013-14 season – bowing out having made 963 appearances for the club and winning 25 major honours along the way.

Giggs was a player-coach that campaign but took the managerial reins until the of that term when Moyes was sacked in April 2014. That summer he remained as part of United’s backroom staff – becoming Louis van Gaal’s assistant. During that spell he helped the Red Devils win the 2016 FA Cup before leaving that summer.

Now, he is the manager of Wales – having been in the role since January 2018. This summer he has the delayed Euros to look forward too, having led them to qualification. 

Ryan Giggs is now Wales manager and has guided them to the delayed Euros this summer


After initially retiring at the end of the 2010-11 season, Scholes returned midway through the following campaign – extending his career by a further 12 months. Unquestionably, he is one of the club’s greatest-ever players – winning 20 major honours at Old Trafford.

Like many of his team-mates, he has had a foray into coaching. First it was informally at United before he was a caretaker manager at Salford City. In February 2019 he was appointed Oldham Athletic boss but that stint only lasted seven games before he resigned – citing interference from the board.

Now you’ll see the 46-year-old as a regular pundit on BT Sport. 

As well as a pundit for BT Sport, Paul Scholes owns a 10 per cent share in Salford City


A goal machine at Old Trafford, you almost have to double-take at his lack of major honours won during his spell in England. Van Nistelrooy scored a jaw-dropping 150 goals in 219 games for the club but only had a Premier League title, one FA Cup and one League Cup to show for it across five seasons.

Van Nistelrooy left for Real Madrid in 2006 – winning LaLiga twice there – before joining Hamburg in 2010. After his two-year stint in Germany he finished his career back in Spain for one season at Malaga (2011-12).

Since retiring he has gone into coaching – having roles at PSV Eindhoven’s youth level. He was part of Ronald Koeman’s backroom staff at Holland too – as assistant manager – before he departed for Barcelona last summer. 

Ruud van Nistelrooy has gone into coaching – working with the likes of PSV’s youth teams


Often ridiculed as one of Ferguson’s worst-ever signings, Djemba-Djemba didn’t prove a hit like Ronaldo did when he joined in the summer of 2003. The Cameroonian spent two years at Old Trafford before heading for Aston Villa. After leaving the Midlands outfit in 2007 his nomadic career took him to the likes of Qatar, Israel and India.

According to The Sun, the 39-year-old was still playing football as of last year – plying himself in the Swiss fifth tier for amateur side FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues.

Eric Djemba-Djemba is reportedly playing football in the Swiss fifth tier for an amateur side


A cult figure at Manchester United, Forlan’s career never took off until he left Old Trafford for Villarreal at the end of that season. He excelled during three terms at the Yellow Submarine – scoring 59 goals in 128 games. His form there earned him a move to Atletico Madrid – where he plundered 96 goals in 196 appearances.

After leaving for Inter Milan in 2011, the striker’s career then included spells in Brazil, Japan and India – to name a few.

He will forever be synonymous with the 2010 World Cup too – where he scored the Goal of the Tournament and was awarded the Golden Ball as the showpiece’s best player. His five goals in South Africa also saw him share the Golden Boot as Uruguay finished fourth.

Since retiring in August 2019, Forlan has also had a crack at management. In December 2019, the 41-year-old was appointed manager of his former club Penarol but was sacked by the Uruguayan outfit last September. 

Diego Forlan has tried his hand at management but was sacked as Penarol boss in September

Subs not used: Roy Carroll and John O’Shea.

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