The 36-year-old forward made a sensational return to the club where he initially rose to prominence just last month, sealing a £19.8 million move from Juventus – a homecoming that occurred 12 years after his departure for Real Madrid in a then-world-record £80 million deal.
Ronaldo’s inaugural stint at Old Trafford was nothing short of extraordinary. The lanky lad from Madeira transformed into the world’s preeminent player over the course of half a decade, securing Premier League titles, European and global accolades, along with prestigious individual honors like the Ballon D’Or – all achieved in resounding and splendid fashion.
However, the Portuguese prodigy faced his fair share of challenges at Old Trafford. It took his United side three years to wrest the Premier League title away from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea. There was the fallout with his teammate Wayne Rooney in 2006, stemming from a clash during the World Cup of that year. Moreover, his final match for United concluded on a bitter note with the 2009 Champions League defeat to Barcelona.
The 36-year-old now presents a markedly different figure compared to his initial arrival on English soil in 2003. Recent training images depict a finely tuned veteran, a man who has crisscrossed the globe and conquered every pinnacle of European elite-level football.
With the Premier League eagerly anticipating the return of arguably its greatest ever player, Sportsmail delves into the archives to reminisce about Ronaldo’s maiden spell at United…