Belfast Telegraph

I am a happy man: Ronaldo keeps smiling as questions over a rape allegation dominate return to Manchester United

By Simon Peach

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident he will be cleared of an allegation of rape, with the Juventus forward pledging to keep smiling and enjoying his life ahead of facing former club Manchester United.

The 33-year old is being sued by a woman in the United States, who claims he raped her in the penthouse suite of a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.

Ronaldo firmly denied the allegation of rape in a Twitter post and did so again on the eve of tonight's Champions League clash against former club United when he made a surprise appearance at the pre-match press conference at Old Trafford.

"I know I am an example," Ronaldo said. "I know, 100 per cent. On the pitch and outside (of) the pitch, so I am always smiling, I am a happy man.

"I'm blessed that I play in a fantastic club, I have a fantastic family, I have four kids, I am healthy."

Ronaldo continued: “I have everything, so the rest doesn’t interfere... so I’m very, very glad.”

When asked another question about the rape allegation, Ronaldo said: “You didn’t listen to what I said. I am a happy man.

“This is not... we did the statement two weeks ago, if I’m not wrong. So I am glad... of course, I’m not going to lie on this situation. I’m very happy.

“My lawyers, they are confident, and, of course, I am too.

“So most important is I enjoy the football, I enjoy my life.

“The rest... I have people who take care of my life and, of course, the truth is always coming in the first position. So I’m good.”

British journalists’ hopes of questioning the forward were ignored, despite answering almost entirely in English at his old stomping ground.

Ronaldo was in jovial mood, flashing smiles at the No.7 Lounge where his face adorns the walls alongside fellow greats like George Best, David Beckham and Eric Cantona.

The 33-year old remains a fans’ favourite at United after a medal-laden spell between 2003 and 2009, meaning he will not celebrate should he score in tonight’s Group H encounter.

“It is a huge, emotional thing for me to come back,” Ronaldo said. “I mean, I can remember what it was like when I was here in Manchester and know all about the history.

“I won lots of trophies here —the cups, leagues, the Champions League.

“I remember also the support as well. The support is fantastic and Sir Alex Ferguson is someone I will never, ever forget. Someone who gave me a huge lift in my career and I would like to express my best possible wishes to him.

“When I knew that we were going to be playing against Manchester United, it was huge for me.”

Meanwhile, Leonardo Bonucci has revealed he turned down a move to the Red Devils to return to Juventus.

The Italy international defender (31) returned to Turin in the summer after spending just one season at Milan following a £35.1m move in 2017 despite a strong approach from United.

“Yes,” Bonucci admitted, when asked if he received an offer from United at the end of last season.

“Basically there have been some possibilities both with Manchester City and with Manchester United. With City when I received that offer (in 2016) I actually talked to the club, I talked to Juventus and we decided that it was good for me to stay and to keep on winning with Juventus.

“This year when I was told there was a possibility to go back home, to come back to Juventus, I just stopped listening to any other offers and I decided to come back.

“I feel at home. Here I really do my best, I just push myself to the maximum and that’s something I didn’t manage at Milan, and that was probably because in my heart I had already made the decision that I wanted to go back home.

“The decision was not made until June but it’s true that I had this feeling inside me. So when my agent told me there was a tangible opportunity to go back I just stopped listening to anyone telling me what to do, I stopped listening to any kind of suggestion and I just said, ‘Okay, let’s go home’.”

Belfast Telegraph

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