Ronaldo who rules the right

Cristiano Ronaldo's step-overs have become a common sight in the Barclays English Premier League, but despite his talent he still has a tendency to frustrate and has yet to fulfil his true potential. Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari would hope that he would turn things around in Germany this summer, writes Andy Hampson.

Fleet-footed Manchester United midfielder, primarily a winger on the right, Cristiano Ronaldo is renowned for his pace and trickery and rated as one of the most exciting young players in Europe. The 21-year-old's step-overs have become a common sight in the Barclays English Premier League, but despite his talent he still has a tendency to frustrate and has yet to fulfil his true potential. Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari would hope that he would turn things around in Germany this summer.

Ronaldo was born on the island of Madeira and was raised in poor surroundings in the city of Funchal. Football came early to him, his father being a coach at local team Andorinha. His talent soon became apparent and at the age of 10, one of the island's big teams, Maritimo, tried to sign him for USD270. Their offer was declined but he was soon to join the island's biggest club, Nacional, in return for a two-year supply of boots and jerseys.

Ronaldo continued to make waves and was at Nacional just two years before Sporting Lisbon moved in and whisked him away to the Portuguese capital, some 600 miles away on the mainland. He attended the same academy that produced national icon Luis Figo.

Ronaldo rose through the ranks at Sporting and was attracting envious glances almost as soon as he broke into the first team. United got a close view of him as they were beaten 3-1 by Sporting in a friendly in summer 2003 and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson immediately swooped to sign the 18-year-old in a deal worth GBP12.24million, then a British record for a teenager.

With England captain David Beckham having just left Old Trafford in a high-profile switch to Real Madrid, Ronaldo was immediately handed the number seven shirt and expectations were high from the start. Ronaldo has since impressed in his time at United, although his tricks, fancy skills and individuality have not always best suited the team. His trademark step-over has fooled a number of defenders, but many have wised up to him already and he needs to develop to continue making an impact in the Premier League.

Ronaldo has been involved in his fair share of controversies at Old Trafford. The most recent one came in January when Ferguson reportedly had to step in to calm nerves after a training ground bust-up between the Portuguese youngster and teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy. Tensions had apparently been rising due to some players' disgruntlement at Ronaldo's continued showboating in games and matters were brought to a head after the Portuguese was sent off in a humiliating 3-1 derby defeat by Manchester City.

Ronaldo tends to make sure his private life stays that way but he was recently photographed on holiday with a mystery blonde woman. Ronaldo had reportedly jetted off to the Mediterranean after being given three days off by United. Apparently he did not look too happy when he went down to the beach, despite staying in a luxurious five-star GBP1,000-per-night hotel. An onlooker said: "He looked a bit glum. Maybe he just had other things on his mind."

Ronaldo survived a nasty scrape when his powerful Porsche Cayenne 4x4 careered off a road close to Manchester Airport early last year. He reportedly lost control at a bend and skidded off road, hitting the kerb and hurtling through a hedge. He then plunged down a bank and into a ditch, taking a tree with him. Realising there was no way back up he then had to drive across a field and smashed through another hedge into someone's garden before finding his way back to the road. An eyewitness said: "He was very lucky there wasn't any oncoming traffic because he could have killed himself or someone else. Luckily, a tree broke his fall into the ditch otherwise the vehicle could have flipped onto its roof."


"I saw (Luiz) Felipe Scolari on three occasions. There were potential developments... he then declared he had no interest in the job. We never offered him the job. My first choice was always Steve McClaren."

— Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick incredibly insists McClaren had never been second choice to Scolari.

"Obviously I'm devastated to break my foot. At this moment it's horrible really, but you have got to get on with it, be positive, and try to get fit as soon as possible."

— England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney on the fractured metatarsal that threatens his World Cup chances.

"But can you ask a player, no matter what standard, to play in the quarterfinal of a World Cup after only two weeks' training? It is impossible."

— United manager Sir Alex Ferguson tries to play down expectations that Rooney can recover in time to play in Germany.

"I would be disappointed to take six weeks to sharpen up — it should be more like six days."

— Michael Owen dispels worries about his World Cup fitness after a long lay-off with a fractured metatarsal.

"I signed for Barcelona because I wanted to play at a great club and make history. Keep the party going all week!"

— Ronaldinho reflects on Barcelona's title triumph in Spain.

"I've decided to stop at the highest level, playing for a club that has given me everything"

— Bayern Munich and France's Bixente Lizarazu announces his intention to retire in the summer to take up a career in television.

"This is fantastic news. Robbie has done really well and he deserves this. He has scored vital goals for us and has worked really hard. I am delighted to have him with us for next season."

— Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez confirms he will be offering Robbie Fowler a new contract with the club.

FACTFILE Position: Midfielder Club: Manchester United D.O.B.: 05/02/1985 Portugal Caps: 30 Portugal Goals: 11 Portugal Debut: v Kazakhstan, August 2003 Moment to remember:

Capped his first season at United by scoring the opening goal as United beat Millwall 3-0 in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in May 2004. Followed that up by reaching the final of Euro 2004 with Portugal.

Moment to forget:

Ronaldo's sending off at the City of Manchester Stadium — his second United red card — was not one of his proudest moments. He endured a frustrating afternoon and was dismissed for a crude challenge on former United striker Andy Cole. He was previously sent off in the 2003-04 season for two bookable offences against Aston Villa.

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