Roy Keane on Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut.
Roy Keane is a massive fan of Cristiano Ronaldo but it seems the Corkman wasn’t wholly impressed by his ex-teammate’s Manchester United debut in 2003.
Ronaldo’s return to Man United is football’s major talking point right now, with confirmation of the move on Friday leading to much celebration among the club’s fans.
As a former captain of the club, Keane is naturally delighted and that is no surprise given his previous comments on how impressed he was with the 18-year-old Ronaldo when he first arrived at Old Trafford in 2003.
Roy Keane didn’t get “carried away” with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo made his debut as a substitute against Bolton Wanderers in a 4-0 win on the opening day of the 2003/04 season and the cameo has gone down in Man United folklore as the moment the young Portuguese winger showed off his talents in English football for the first time.
However, it seems that Ronaldo’s skipper that season wasn’t all that impressed, with Keane giving an interview soon afterwards in which he played down the performance of of the youngster.
“I don’t tend to get carried away with players after 20 minutes,” Keane says in a clip that was shared by Twitter account United Rewind on Sunday. “I think he won a penalty but so what?”
"It was 20 minutes, that's all it was. I think he won a penalty, but so what?" Roy is as impressed as you'd expect with Ronaldo's incredible United debut. pic.twitter.com/jcgZjE5ZDq
— United Rewind (@unitedrewind) August 29, 2021
The United captain intentionally held back praise for Ronaldo.
“At a club like Man United when a player like Cristiano comes along, we’ve experienced it with Ryan Giggs and Lee Sharpe, the media start getting carried away.
“It’s important for Cristiano to learn his trade and keep his feet on the ground and I’m sure the manager and staff will make sure he will do that and continue to learn.”
It’s a fairly measured outlook from Keane after Ronaldo’s initial burst into the spotlight but as he explained in his autobiography The Second Half, the captain was intentionally holding back his praise for the future Ballon d’Or winner.
“After the first few days, watching him train, my reaction was, ‘This lad is going to be one of the world’s greatest players’,” Keane writes.
“I didn’t say it publicly, because I’d always be wary of building a player up too early – or knocking him down. He was very likeable.”
Keane’s hunch turned out to be fairly prophetic, with Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford in the twilight of a career that has seen him become widely considered to be among the greatest players of all-time.
The pair played together for just over two years, before Keane’s acrimonious United exit in 2005 and the Corkman won’t be the only ex-player delighted to see their former teammate return.