Eric Djemba-Djemba explains how "emotional" Cristiano Ronaldo introduced him to Nando's at Manchester United
Former Manchester United midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba has claimed that some of his stunned Old Trafford team-mates told Alex Ferguson to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003.
The Cameroon international joined United (opens in new tab) shortly before the Portuguese winger, and recalled how future Real Madrid icon Ronaldo’s performance in a pre-season friendly against Sporting CP left the Premier League stars in awe.
“We travelled to Portugal for pre-season, to Lisbon, and it was amazing,” he told AmericanGambler.com (opens in new tab).
“We played a game against Sporting, where we played against Cristiano Ronaldo. That game he was like ‘WOAH!’
“It was a good game, but Cristiano was on fire; that game he was flying against us.
“The talk in the changing room after was totally about Cristiano. Everybody was saying he had a good game, he’s a good player, everything; and after that Fergie went for him.
“It’s true that some of the players said to Ferguson that we needed to sign him, that he would be good in our team.”
Djemba-Djemba struck up a strong rapport with Ronaldo in Manchester and explained that there is more to the current Juventus (opens in new tab) forward than meets the eye.
“People can watch Ronaldo on the television, but they don’t know the real Cristiano. Cristiano is a man who had a difficult time as a kid in football,” he said.
“People see him on the television and think he is arrogant or takes the piss out of people, but Cristiano is an emotional man. You need to talk to him to see who he really is.
“My mum passed away and he said, 'Eric if you need me, you can call me, you can visit me, don’t worry I am here for you'.
“Every day when we were together at United, we drove to training together. Sometimes we would drive in my car; sometimes we would drive in his car. After training we went to eat at Nandos in Manchester; he helped me discover Nandos!
“When we went to away games, we were room-mates. He was my best friend. We were together every single day for training; sometimes I would go to his house to eat as his house as his mother was there with him when Cristiano was young. Sometimes he would come to my house to eat, as I was living alone in Rio Ferdinand’s old house!”
QUIZ! Can you name the players who've scored 10+ penalties in the Premier League? (opens in new tab)
RANKED! The 15 best underrated goals from unfashionable Premier League players (opens in new tab)
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get the FourFourTwo Newsletter
The best features, fun and footballing quizzes, straight to your inbox every week.
Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.