Cristiano Ronaldo reveals he was 'one step away' from joining Manchester United's rivals Arsenal
Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he was ‘one step away’ from joining Arsenal, before he opted to make a switch to Manchester United in 2003.
In an interview with Piers Morgan on ITV, the Portugal superstar gave his version of a story that had previously been told by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who revealed Ronaldo had been at the Gunners training ground for final talks over a move to the club when he left Sporting Lisbon.
Yet the persuasive voice of Alex Ferguson convinced him to move to Old Trafford, with Ronaldo offering worlds of praise for Wenger.
“It's true. I came very close, one step away, incredible,” he said when asked about his talks with Arsenal.
“They're a fantastic club. It didn't happen, but I appreciate what they did for me, especially Arsene Wenger. You know football, you never know where you're going to play. The life is like that.”
Ronaldo also opened up on his enduring personal duel with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, as he suggested his place in football folklore is secure even if he ultimately ranked behind his big rival.
“Messi is a fantastic guy, a fantastic player,” he added. “He's in the history of football, but I think I have to have six or seven or eight (more trophies) to be above him.
“My relationship with him is, we are not friends, but we have shared this stage for 15 years. I know that he has pushed me to be a better player and I have pushed him to be a better player as well.
“I'm sure I'm in the history of football for what I have done and what I'm continuing to do, but one of the best players in history.
“For me, the number one in history, but for some fans, if the number one is another one and I'm second, it doesn't matter. I know I'm in the history of football as one of the greatest ever.”