A dream came true for a north Belfast man when he got to meet his footballing hero, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Paul Walsh (31) from Glengormley crossed paths with the world’s most expensive sportsman this week while spending a night with wife Nuala and year-old daughter Anna in Carton House, Co Kildare, where Real Madrid has been training for a friendly against Shamrock Rovers.
Ronaldo (24) transferred from Manchester United in a record £80m deal last month.
Mr Walsh said: “We were going away for the night and looking for somewhere to stay and I just saw that the team were there and thought I would book it — and it looked really lovely on the internet.”
Despite fearing he wouldn’t see the team at all due to the size of Carton House, the family were lucky enough to see them six times a day. So it was only a matter of breaking the ice between team Walsh and team Real Madrid.
“I am a Manchester United supporter and it’s always been a dream of mine to meet Cristiano Ronaldo.
“So my wife went over to them and they were kind enough to let us take pictures.
“Ronaldo looked very tanned and was very friendly. He would just say: ‘I’m going to training now’. He was definitely getting the biggest cheers. It was a dream come true to see him.”
The friendliest were team captain Raul, and its newest signing Ruud van Nistelrooy “They said: “Hello, how are you?” and more or less just started talking to my daughter.
“I think she knew something was going on but she wasn’t quite sure what. She’s only one. But I think she liked Karim Benzema best.” And Paul secured a lasting souvenir from the footballing gods. “They all signed my Manchester United top. It was definitely great to meet them and I will be tuning in to their matches.”
But he added there was “no chance” of switching allegiances after around a quarter of a century of Man U worship.
Real Madrid will play a friendly against Shamrock Rovers in Dublin on Monday and will stay at Carton House until Wednesday.