Cristiano Ronaldo says he will be 'going home' when Real Madrid face Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League, and the Portuguese is eagerly awaiting the return to his former club.
Ronaldo left Manchester United for Real Madrid in a record-breaking £80 million transfer in 2009, and has yet to meet the Red Devils since his move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
But Ronaldo has been presented with the opportunity to face Manchester United after they were drawn against Real Madrid in the first knockout phase of this season's Champions League, and the 27-year-old admits he sensed 2013 would be the year they would meet.
“On the day of the draw I was out training and I had this strong feeling that we were going to get Manchester United," Ronaldo said, as reported by The Sun.
“And when the draw was made I was very happy. It’s a tough match of course — Madrid and United are the two biggest clubs in the world and it’s a real 50-50. It could go either way.
“But for me it will be a pleasure, a real pleasure. Of course I know there will be a lot of attention on me but for me there is no pressure, no pressure at all.
“It is only a game, just a football match against my old club. I’m not going to war, I’m going home — and I am really looking forward to it.”
The first encounter of the tie will take place at the Santiago Bernabeu on February 13, before the return fixture at Old Trafford on March 5 with victory in the Champions League the ultimate ambiton for both clubs this term.
Ronaldo, though, says the prospect of playing Manchester United will be one that fills him with pride rather than it being a case of split loyalties, although the Portuguese adds that being at Old Trafford will be like visiting the place where he grew up.
"I am so happy to be going back to Manchester," Ronaldo added.
“I will go and see my old house, see my Manchester friends — they’re a kind of a family to me there and it will be great. It will be fun.
“And finally I will go to the club where I played for many, many years.
“It will be so nice. I still speak with quite a few of the United lads: Rio [Ferdinand], Patrice [Evra], Nani, Anderson.
“The guys have all been joking with me. It will be great to see them again even though it is going to be a very difficult game.
“Manchester United are the best team in England, they are great. Every year they win something.
“And they have a fantastic coach in Sir Alex Ferguson, I know that. But so have we in Jose Mourinho. And he’s my coach now so I obviously hope Mourinho wins!”
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