Cristiano Ronaldo will make his first trip back to Old Trafford in early 2013, after his Real Madrid side drew Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
It will be an emotional return for the player that scored so prolifically in a Red Devils shirt and helped Sir Alex Ferguson win his second Champions League trophy in 2008.
Ronaldo's return to Manchetser United will come just over nine years since he scored his first competitive goal under Ferguson, and the Scot will be hoping his abundant exploits in front of goal don't continue.
Looking back, it appears a seminal moment in the history of the Old Trafford club, as it began the career of, arguably, the most talented Red Devils player of the past decade.
Since that goal, in a straightforward 3-0 victory over Portsmouth, Ronaldo went on to win three Premier League titles, two League Cups, one FA Cup, a Champions League winners’ medal, be named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2008, make a world record £80million transfer to Real Madrid, won a La Liga title and has broken all kinds of goalscoring records for Los Blancos.
Ronaldo is now considered one of the two best players in the world with his rival at Barcelona Lionel Messi and he has graced the game with numerous wonder goals and sensational strikes.
GMF decided a fitting tribute to the return of one of United's favourite sons would be to pick out five of their favourite Cristiano Ronaldo goals to commemorate the day he made his mark on the Premier League as a precocious 18-year-old.
Now, before you Ronaldo anoraks out there get in a huff because a certain goal isn’t in the five, GMF wants to make clear that these aren’t the definitive best five, they’re just the five GMF enjoys the most.
So, have a watch and enjoy some of the most sublime football we may possibly ever witness…
Not only was this 40-yard strike a sublime effort, it was the goal that took Manchester United through to the semi-finals of the Champions League. A 2-2 draw at Old Trafford levt the Portuguese club slight favourites, but Ronaldo’s unstoppable strike was defended successfully to secure passage.
Ronaldo’s free-kick technique wasn’t quite so polished as it is now when he played for Manchester United, but this one certainly came off. A soft foul, committed 25 yards out, is punished breathtakingly well by the Portuguese star.
The goalkeeper may have been a little bit suspect for this one, but the strike from all of 40 yards was moving at quite a pace and had a bit of obligatory mid-air wobble.
Not only was this another terrific hit, it was to complete a sensational hat-trick after the visitors to Santiago Bernabeu had taken a shock lead. Defenders should really know better than to stand off Ronaldo and let him inside onto his right foot, but the dip on the shot that followed really couldn’t be predicted.
v Rayo Vallecano
Ronaldo’s greatest strength is the way he can strike a ball from distance, the power he generates, the subtle movement and accuracy are sometimes bafflingly good. It is not all he can do though; the Portugal captain produces the cuteness of Messi sometimes and this inspired backheel goal against Rayo Vallecano is a pleasure to watch.
What did you think of GMF’s favourite Cristiano Ronaldo goals? What are your favourites? Leave a comment below to let us know…