Saturday, June 22, 2024

Portugal vs Republic of Ireland: international friendly

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Republic of Ireland interim boss John O’Shea joked “I won’t be playing, thankfully” as he was reminded about his first encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo before a reunion with the “amazing” Portugal star in Tuesday’s friendly in Aveiro.

O’Shea and Ronaldo were Manchester United team-mates for six years between 2003 and 2009, winning three Premier League titles and a Champions League together.

But before O’Shea had the pleasure of watching Ronaldo terrorise opponents, the defender faced the stepover-happy winger in United’s pre-season friendly against Sporting Lisbon in 2003.

The teenager’s performance that night left a significant impression, so much so that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson signed him within a week, launching a career in England that turned Ronaldo into a superstar.

“Hopefully he is resting, hopefully he’s having another rest – he might need another week to prepare for the Euros,” O’Shea said with a smile when asked about facing his former team-mate on Tuesday.

“He’s an amazing footballer – still is – the records and goals that he’s still setting, his dedication and professionalism, and he’s getting his rewards for that.”

O’Shea added it was “superb” to watch Ronaldo blossom into a world-class player during his time at Old Trafford.

“As a team-mate, he was brilliant because of the character he was too, the relationship he had with everyone and it was superb to see him develop,” said O’Shea.

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