Cristiano Ronaldo offered a touching tribute to Rio Ferdinand ahead of the testimonial staged at Old Trafford for the Manchester United centre-back.

Ferdinand was awarded the prestigious event after 10 glorious years with the Red Devils, although the encounter with Sevilla on Friday night ended in defeat for the Red Devils.

The 34-year-old insisted the match was treated as a serious pre-season friendly rather than an opportunity for former Manchester United stars to pull on the famous jersey once again, meaning Ronaldo was not afforded the chance to feature alongside Ferdinand again.

The Real Madrid superstar, however, waxed lyrical about Ferdinand in the official matchday programme, praising the professionalism and affability of 'one of the greatest players' Manchester United have ever had.

"10 years have gone by since I signed for United and today, as a Real Madrid player, I want to talk about one of the greatest players that Old Trafford and the world of football have witnessed," Ronaldo said. "My friend Rio.

"For me, it's an incredible honour to be able to pay tribute to one of the best defenders of all time on such an important night. His football and personality, inside and outside the pitch, were fundamental, not only in the development of the team, but also in all of us that had the opportunity to share great memories and football moments with him.

"What I am about to say may help describe him better as a player: I feel so fortunate to have played with him rather than against him.

"Today, I wish for all the fans to enjoy a memorable occasion and to take this opportunity to pay tribute to one of the most memorable players that has worn United's jersey."

Bryan Rabello, Victor Machin and Marko Marin all scored for Sevilla in front of 43,000 fans at Old Trafford - with Antonio Valencia the scorer for the home side - as Manchester United suffered a morale sapping defeat only eight days before the start of the new Premier League season.

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