Thanks For Everything, Cristiano!
It is over. Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving Manchester United after spending six years at the club. He arrived as a skinny 18-year-old with a ridiculous haircut and great potential and departs as one of the best players in the world, a fearless athlete, a real goal machine.
He has reasons to be grateful to Manchester United who did a lot for him to be what he is, just as United have ample of reasons to be grateful to him. This alliance was a major benefit to both parties: three league titles, a Champions League crown, an FA Cup win, two Carling Cups and a World Club Championship trophy means that he's won just about everything that is there to win in English and European football.
This step in his career was not unexpected, we always knew Real Madrid were his dream club. This is a new challenge for him and it's somewhat understandable that he's looking for one. He's not a loyal type, we know that, and he's longing for the glamour of the Spanish capital. Professionally he won't improve - that's just about certain, the heights of 2007/08 will never be repeated - but the lifestyle, the glittering will suit him.
It wasn't all sunshine of course: we remember his preening, his whinging, his shameful dives and the little nasty kicks, his berating of the referees... Or there was last season's flirting with Madrid when he showed as much respect to the fans as a teapot would have done (all those mysterious smiles and cheeky little hints) and though we were spared that this season, his public comments always hinted at a desire to stay at United which was never true, it seems.
However, I prefer to remember the good times: the fantastic goals, the matchwinning performances, the amazing pace, and his absolute, overwhelming desire to win, at all cost at all times. He gave us fantastic moments, matches, seasons and over the last three years he was the number one player of the world.
Thanks for everything, Cristiano, you are a real individual which is increasingly rare in the modern football world. Great memories, great things, good luck at Madrid - you'll need it.