Ferdinand reveals O'Shea was left 'panting' after facing Ronaldo

‘John O’Shea must have needed an oxygen tank next to him’: Rio Ferdinand reveals former Manchester United team-mate was left ‘panting’ in dressing room at half-time after facing Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003 friendly

  • Cristiano Ronaldo tormented John O’Shea in pre-season friendly in 2003 
  • Rio Ferdinand says O’Shea couldn’t speak after facing the winger in friendly
  • Ferdinand revealed United players begged Sir Alex Ferguson to sign Ronaldo
  • Ronaldo moved to United in a £12.24million deal days after facing the club 

Rio Ferdinand has joked that former Manchester United team-mate John O’Shea needed an oxygen tank after facing Cristiano Ronaldo back in 2003. 

Ronaldo put in a sensational performance for Sporting Lisbon in a 3-1 pre-season friendly win against United before moving to Old Trafford just days later. 

O’Shea had the misfortune of having to mark the Ronaldo that night and Ferdinand says the Irishman could barely speak at half-time after chasing him around the pitch. 

Rio Ferdinand has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo left John O’Shea ‘panting’ after 2003 friendly

Ronaldo put in a sensational display as Sporting Lisbon beat United 3-1 in August 2003

Ferdinand says O’Shea, left, ‘must have needed an oxygen tank’ after playing against Ronaldo

‘We played against Sporting in 2003, we get in at half-time and John O’Shea must’ve needed an oxygen tank next to him,’ he said during a life FIFA 20 match as part of the ‘Stay Home. Play Together’ campaign by EA Sports and Copa90.

‘He was in bits and he was sitting there panting. We were telling him to get closer to Ronaldo and he couldn’t even answer us.’

Ferdinand and the rest of his United team-mates were left stunned by Ronaldo’s performance and urged Sir Alex Ferguson to try and sign him.  

‘To be fair, me, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were standing there going “this kid’s unbelievable, we’ve got to sign him”.

Ronaldo’s performance against United earned him a £12.24million move to club just days later

Ronaldo made an immediate impression with a stunning debut against Bolton Wanderers

‘We got on the coach and we were delayed for about an hour and a half, and then they said they were doing a deal to sign Ronaldo now.’

Just days after that game, United completed a £12.24million deal to sign Ronaldo and he went on to become one of the greatest players in the club’s history. 

The Portuguese won the Champions League, three Premier League titles and two FA Cups in six years at United before joining Real Madrid for £80m in 2009. 

The Portuguese went on to become one of the club’s greatest ever players in a six-year stay

Ferdinand says Ronaldo’s commitment to self improvement and investing in himself was the secret to his success at the club.  

‘He lived next door to me and I’m going around his house sometimes and see 15 people there. I’d say, “Bruv, who are all these people in your house? Are you not going to relax?”

‘He’d go, “That’s my physio, that’s the sports scientist, that’s the masseur”. I’m thinking, “Jesus, this guy is nuts”.’  

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