Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has lifted the lid on how he promised Cristiano Ronaldo his dream move to Real Madrid.
In Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography, which goes on general sale on Thursday, the Scot tells of how then Madrid president Ramon Calderon’s public overtures riled him to the extent that he refused to sanction a sale despite Ronaldo’s desire to move to Spain.
Ronaldo would eventually join Madrid for £80 million (€94m) in 2009, which Ferguson believes was a statement of intent from re-instated president Florentino Perez.
The Scot writes: “Madrid paid £80 million in cash for him, and do you know why? It was a way for Florentino Perez, their president, to say to the world, ‘We are Real Madrid, we are the biggest of the lot’.
“When the possibility of him leaving edged towards being a probability, I reached a gentleman’s agreement with him.
“I went to Carlos’s house in Portugal to find the boy expressing an urge to go to Real Madrid, and told him: ‘You can’t go this year, not after the way Calderon has approached the issue’.
“I said, ‘I know you want to go to Real Madrid. But I’d rather shoot you than sell you to that guy now. If you perform, don’t mess us about, and someone comes and offers a world record fee, then we will let you go.’
“I did well to calm him down. I told him that the reason I was refusing to sell him that year was because of Calderon. I said, ‘If I do that, all my honour’s gone, everything’s gone for me, and I don’t care if you have to sit in the stands. I know it won’t come to that, but I just have to tell you I will not let you leave this year’.”