Sir Alex Ferguson used Cristiano Ronaldo phone call to get one over Arsenal
Sir Alex Ferguson’s huge influence at Manchester United is still felt now, with the legendary manager having helped persuade Cristiano Ronaldo to return last week.
In doing so, the Scot helped the Red Devils bring back a superstar who could potentially attract more players to the club – just like he did during his first spell at Old Trafford.
Back in 2005, Ronaldo helped Fergie get one over Arsenal by making a phone call to Brazil – to twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva.
The brothers, then 15, had trained at United but also received offers from Arsenal, then managed by Fergie’s old adversary Arsene Wenger.
But a phone call in their native Portuguese from Ronaldo convinced them to head to Manchester, where they both went on to become Premier League champions.
“First it was a Portuguese greeting,’ recalled Fabio in an interview with the Daily Mail. “Then the voice says: ‘It is Cristiano Ronaldo’.
“I think it is a joke but he says: ‘No, it is Cristiano here. I’m calling you to tell you to come to United. I can help you guys so you need to come. You’re going to enjoy.’
“Sir Alex Ferguson must have known about Arsenal. This was his way of making sure we came to Manchester. It worked.”
They were still only 17 when they arrived in Manchester, and went on to break into Ferguson’s first team despite competition from Gary Neville, Patrice Evra, John O’Shea and Wes Brown for the full-back berths.
Rafael left Old Trafford for Lyon in 2015 as a three-time Premier League winner, also helping United to Club World Cup glory in 2008 and twice finishing as a Champions League runner-up.
Fabio played less but still won one league title, as well as playing in the 2010/11 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona before playing for QPR, Cardiff, Middlesbrough and Nantes.
Both players have hailed Ronaldo as an inspiration to them early in their careers – and last week it took one of Ferguson’s phone calls to help bring the five-time Ballon d’Or winner back to the club
With neighbours Man City closing in on signing the 36-year-old, United moved to hijack the transfer and enlisted the help of Ferguson to speak with Ronaldo, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Hours later, they announced they had agreed a deal with their former player, with his sensational switch from Juventus finally confirmed on transfer deadline day.
After he helped the club to three league titles, the Champions League and the Club World Cup during his first spell at old Trafford, it is hoped Ronaldo will be able to make his second United debut at home to Newcastle next Saturday