Football

Jonathan Woodgate reveals what Ronaldo said to him after his disaster debut

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Jonathan Woodgate's career promised great things but injury problems stopped him from becoming one of Europe's great defenders.

Woodgate made a name for himself as a teenager at Leeds United, breaking into the first team despite their wealth of talent in central defence, including Rio Ferdinand, Lucas Radebe and Dominic Matteo.

In 2004, the Middlesbrough born centre half joined Real Madrid from Newcastle United in a £13.4m deal.

Woodgate managed just nine La Liga appearances during his two-year stay in Spain, returning to England for spells at Middlesbrough, Spurs and Stoke.

The 37-year-old won eight caps for England and retired from playing in 2016.

Woodgate's nightmare debut

In September 2005 - 13 months after signing - Woodgate finally made his debut in a Real Madrid shirt at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It was a night to forget for the injury-prone defender, scoring an own goal in the first half before being sent off for a second bookable offence with the score at 1-1.

Goals from Raul and Robinho secured a 3-1 Real Madrid win but it was a performance that he never truly lived down.

Ronaldo: The nicest fellow in the world

The magnificent Brazilian forward dubbed "O Fenômeno" (The Phenomenon) spent five years at Real Madrid.

Ronaldo also had a career plagued by injuries and Woodgate emphasised just how wonderful the famous striker was.

"Ronaldo's the one who stands out [in the Madrid dressing room]," Woodgate told The Guardian. "He's excellent. Excellent! He's the nicest fellow in the world. Best player, nicest [he repeats it with feeling, stressing each word] fellow-in-the-world. He's just great.

"Always smiling. Always asking if I want to join him for something to eat. He's a proper, spot-on geezer, Ronaldo."

What Ronaldo said after Woodgate's disaster debut

Woodgate was sat in the dressing room after his long-awaited debut and was given a lift by one of the greatest ever.

"There I was thinking, 'Bloody hell...' and Ronaldo came up and said, 'Don't worry about it. It's your first game. We all know you're a decent player. And besides', he said, 'your leg's all right, isn't it?' That gave me a lift."

Ronaldo was a cut above the rest, in every regard.

Topics:
Gareth Bale
Football
Jonathan Woodgate
Ronaldo
La Liga
Karim Benzema

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