In Porto’s old home stadium, Estadio das Antas, several representatives of Liverpool are excited because they are about to see a very special player up close.
在波尔图的旧主体育场埃斯塔迪奥·达斯·安塔斯（Estadio das Antas），利物浦的几位代表感到很兴奋，因为他们将近距离看到一位非常特殊的球员。
In the last round of the 2002-03 season, several European clubs sent scouts to the stadium to investigate two very talented young players on the offensive line of Portuguese sports.
Later in the summer of 2003, Barcelona signed Quaresma, but Liverpool preferred another wide player from Portuguese sports. His jersey looks a bit too big, his teeth wear braces, his forehead has pimples, and his feet seem to be able to perform magic.
His name is Cristiano Ronaldo and he was only 18 years old. Mourinho, then Porto coach, even joked that he might be the "son of Van Basten."
That night, Liverpool assistant coach Phil Thompson and football agent Tony Henry had dinner in Porto to discuss how to persuade Portuguese sports to sell Ronaldo.
Tony Henry works for Wayne Rooney's agent Paul Strafford, with the task of finding a Premier League club suitable for Ronaldo. Although Portuguese sports lost 0-2 to Porto, Ronaldo has shown the potential to become a superstar.
托尼·亨利（Tony Henry）为韦恩·鲁尼（Wayne Rooney）的经纪人保罗·斯特拉福德（Paul Strafford）工作，任务是寻找适合罗纳尔多的英超俱乐部。尽管葡萄牙体育队以2比2输给波尔图，但罗纳尔多展现出了成为超级巨星的潜力。
"I still remember Tony's original words at the time." Thompson recalled, "He said in a relaxed tone:'(transfer fee) £4 million can be paid in installments within his four-year contract, equivalent to 1 million a year. It seemed reasonable. Then I asked Ronaldo about his salary requirements, and Tony told me that the annual salary was 1 million pounds, after tax."
"For an 18-year-old player, this is a lot of money. But Tony said it was still negotiable, so I thought:'Oh my God, they really want to sell him.' We are very interested because that The child really has great potential."
In Liverpool's view, the club has reached a basis for signing contracts with players, as long as the two sides negotiate the treatment can sign.
"I will never forget what happened next." Thompson said. "One Tuesday morning, we were having lunch at the training base and Sky Sports suddenly broke the news:'Manchester United has signed Ronaldo for £12.2 million.' Hollier (former Liverpool coach) and I were choking on the food in our mouths. I remember him furious and jumping up and asking:'What's the matter?'"
“我永远不会忘记接下来发生的事情。”汤亚博登录手机普森说。 “一个星期二早上，我们在训练基地吃午餐，而天空体育突然间爆出了消息：'曼联队以1220万英镑的价格签下了罗纳尔多。' Hollier（前利物浦教练）和我在on咽我们的嘴里的食物。我记得他很生气，跳了起来，问：“怎么了？””
Many people think that the reason Manchester United signed Ronaldo was because Ronaldo had an eye-catching performance in a friendly match between Manchester United and Portuguese Sports, so that the players begged Ferguson to bring him back to Old Trafford. But in fact, Manchester United has already prepared for the signing of Ronaldo.
"I know Manchester United will be my new club." Ronaldo once said, "No matter what the media wrote, Manchester United was not suddenly interested in me after that friendly match. Of course, I did perform very well in the game. Great, but that's not the only reason."
In order to reveal the truth behind Ronaldo’s joining Manchester United, The Athletic held talks with former Manchester United CEO Peter Kenyon, Portuguese sports coach Boloni, Sports Director Carlos Freitas, and sources from Arsenal, clubs and other clubs. Through the dialogue, the following facts were discovered:
You must be wondering, how did Manchester United steal Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal Sports first?
First of all, Manchester United's luck is very good-before Manchester United, several clubs were very close to signing Ronaldo. For example, on November 24, 2002, Cristiano Ronaldo once secretly flew to London to meet with former Arsenal coach Wenger. At that time, Ronaldo even accepted Arsenal's preliminary physical examination.
But in addition to luck, Manchester United also meticulously formulated a set of strategies to ensure that they have an advantage in the battle for Ronaldo.
In the summer of 2002, under the advice of assistant coach Carlos Queiroz, Manchester United and Portuguese sports established a partnership. The two clubs can share advice on scouting, training and player development. Before joining Manchester United with Ferguson, Queiroz served as the head coach of Portuguese sports and knew the Portuguese league very well.
"We want to close the distance with Portuguese sports, they have cultivated many outstanding players." The former Manchester United CEO Kenyon said, "We have Carlos (Queros), so we can understand the outstanding young players in Portugal. For us, cooperation is an opportunity to help both parties to increase understanding, but it is not specifically for (signing) Ronaldo."
"I also hope that we can find Ronaldo earlier than any other club, but in European football, he is already a rising star. We know that we will definitely face fierce competition."
On August 6, 2003, Portuguese Sports played a friendly match against Manchester United at their new home. On the eve of the game, Ferguson and the two executives of Portuguese Sports had dinner at a golf resort. Mendes and his nephew and right-hand man Luis Correa were also present.
The situation at the time was: Ronaldinho refused the invitation of Manchester United and signed with Barcelona; Beckham has already moved to Real Madrid, and Veron will soon join Chelsea. Mendes knows that Manchester United hopes to sign Ronaldo and has sufficient transfer funds.
After dinner, Ferguson and Mendes talked for another 2 hours and reached a gentleman agreement. Ferguson told Mendes that Manchester United will provide Ronaldo with a five-year contract, which includes a clause that allows him to continue playing for Portuguese sports for one season as a loaner. Ferguson stared Mendes' eyes and said, "We will take good care of him."
However, after the friendly match with Portuguese Sports, Ferguson hopes that Ronaldo will join Manchester United immediately.
"C Ronaldo's performance that night was great, he made everyone more excited and everything accelerated." Kenyon recalled. After halftime, Ferguson sent Kenyon a text message: "We have to take this kid back with him."
"According to the original plan, we intend to let Ronaldo stay in Portuguese sports for another year. We want him to continue to grow in Portuguese sports, accumulate first team experience, and come to Manchester United a year later. But he is too dazzling, right? We felt that we could not let him develop elsewhere, and decided to take him down immediately." Kenyon said.
On the flight back to Manchester, several Manchester United players begged Ferguson to sign Ronaldo, but what is less known is that Mendes may face lawsuits due to a dispute with Stratford...
The relationship between the two agents began in March 2002, when Stratford was invited to Lisbon to establish a cooperation with Mendes’ company Gestifute. The goal was to facilitate the transfer of Portuguese players to the Premier League club and share the commission. Mendes signed a lot of Portuguese players, while Stratford has the necessary contacts in the UK. However, Ronaldo’s transfer caused disputes, which eventually led to a complete breakdown of the relationship between the two parties.
Strafford submitted the litigation documents to the Porto District Court and Wenger was listed as one of the witnesses. However, the lawsuit was resolved shortly before it started, and the two parties also signed legal documents prohibiting relevant personnel from discussing details.
Of course, Ferguson does not need to worry about these things. Ferguson sat in his old position (front seat by the aisle) and talked to the players about Ronaldo’s technical moves and transfer rumors about him. However, Kenyon did not fly back to Manchester with the club-he was carrying a suitcase and was about to meet with the chairman of the Portuguese sports club. "After the team left, I stayed and negotiated Ronaldo's transfer."
In addition to Manchester United, what other clubs have had the opportunity to take Ronaldo from Portuguese sports?
"Arsenal is the first." Former Portuguese sports director Freitas said, "David Dane (former Arsenal vice chairman) contacted us. But there are also Inter Milan, Valencia and Barcelona. All have contact with Portuguese sports and tried to sign Ronaldo."
"We received official offers from these clubs and they were all very good. Oh yes, and Juventus. We negotiated with Juventus, but they didn’t make a deal. Part of the agreement is Marcelo Salas. Want to join Portuguese sports, but he does not want to come to Portugal to play."
As a former Chilean international, Salas did consider being part of the player exchange + cash deal, so much so
Paco Roig was once one of the candidates for the president of the Valencia Club. He reached an agreement with Mendes: If Roig is elected president, he will sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Quare for Valencia. Sima, or Ronaldo alone.
Parma put forward a transfer offer of about 7 million pounds, but hope that Ronaldo will continue to play for Portuguese sports for another year.
Former FC Barcelona football director Begiristan personally went to Lisbon to watch the friendly match between Manchester United and Portuguese sports, but it was too late... Real Madrid also liked Ronaldo——
According to former Portuguese sports coach Boloni, he also knows of several other clubs that are interested in Ronaldo.
"Personally, I talked to the three clubs." Boloni said, "Auxerre coach Guy Rou is the first person to call me. I told him that Ronaldo is really very, very special.
Guy Rou liked to work with young players and he asked me about the transfer fee. I said, ‘you have to prepare millions of pounds for him. 'He said:'
Guy Rou喜欢和年轻球员一起工作，他问了我转会费。我说，‘你必须为他准备数百万英镑。 '他说：'
Boloni once hoped to loan Lyon striker Tony Varelles, and added a clause in the loan agreement to provide Lyon with the right of first refusal for Ronaldo.
"We had no money at the time, and the club president said to me: ‘you tell Lyon, if they are willing to rent Valreres to us for free, then when we sell the young players in the team, they can buy first.’"
"The people at Lyon asked me: ‘Which young players do you have?" I told them, there are too many, but the two outstanding ones are Ronaldo and Quaresma.
I waited for two weeks, and no one in Lyon called me. The transfer window is about to close, so I called them again,
Boloni also met Wenger. "I went to England to visit Arsenal because I wanted to find another striker." He recalled, "I wanted to see if there was a suitable candidate for the Arsenal reserve team, and Arsenal asked me about Ronaldo's situation, so I told Guy-Rou verbatim to him (Winger)."
"I remember that
"In the beginning, Manchester United didn't even arrange for scouts to visit Ronaldo. Manchester United may have heard of him, but unlike some other clubs, they send people to watch games every week."
Before every home game of Portuguese Sports, a group of scouts from various European clubs arrive at Lisbon Airport, and there is usually no representative of Manchester United among them.
"This is a common technique, not only Jorge (Mendez) can use, it can make everyone understand how fierce the competition." A source close to that transfer said.
At the time, Damien Comoli was a scout for Arsenal and heard his name when Ronaldo was 15 years old. Arsenal's chief player Steve Lauley created a profile for Ronaldo, and another key scout of the club, Francis Kagigo, will also go to the home stadium of Portuguese Sports to watch the game.
当时，达米安·科莫利（Damien Comoli）是阿森纳的球探，当罗纳尔多（Ronalddo）15岁时就听到了他的名字。阿森纳的首席球员史蒂夫·劳利（Steve Lauley）为罗纳尔多（Ronaldo）创造了个人资料，俱乐部的另一位主要球探弗朗西斯·卡吉戈（Francis Kagigo）也将前往葡萄牙体育的主场观看比赛。
Liverpool has also been investigating Ronaldo. Thompson often watched many games of the Portuguese U20 youth team. "He and Quaresma would ride 1 million bicycles." Thompson recalled.
In contrast, Manchester United rarely send scouts to watch Portuguese sports games...but interestingly, Tottenham Hotspur also became interested in Ronaldo. Tottenham scout Barry Hickman had Called and told the team's coach, David Pritt, that he should look at this "very outstanding player."
相比之下，曼联很少派球探去观看葡萄牙体育比赛……但是有趣的是，托特纳姆热刺也对罗纳尔多产生了兴趣。热刺球探巴里·希克曼（Barry Hickman）致电并告诉球队的教练大卫·普里特（David Pritt），他应该看待这位“非常出色的球员”。
Former Tottenham player Ronnie Rosenthal also tried to help his old club. "I often go to Portugal and have seen many home games in Portuguese sports. The first time I saw Ronaldo play in October 2002, and then I started to let more people know how great he is. The first club I contacted was Tottenham." Rosenthal said.
热刺前球员罗尼·罗森塔尔（Ronnie Rosenthal）也试图帮助他的老东家。 “我经常去葡萄牙，看过许多葡萄牙体育比赛。2002年10月，我第一次看到罗纳尔多踢球，然后我开始让更多的人知道他是多么出色。我联系的第一个俱乐部是热刺。”罗森塔尔说。
But Tottenham did not go further. In November 2002, Ronaldo arrived in London, and Arsenal held transfer negotiations with him.
Ronaldo and his mother Dolores and agent Mendes traveled together, visited the Arsenal training base, and ate with Wenger in the cafeteria.
Wenger introduced him to Henry and several other players, and also negotiated a transfer fee of £8 million with Mendes. Wenger brought Ronaldo into the office and promised him that he could wear the No. 28 jersey he wanted. "The transfer is almost complete, just the last step." An Arsenal source revealed.
However, the situation suddenly changed drastically.
There is a saying that Mendes left the negotiating table and made a phone call. After returning, he told Wenger that he had just called Ferguson and Manchester United was willing to pay a transfer fee of £11 million. But this claim has never been confirmed.
In any case, Mendes pushed Ronaldo to change his mind at the last minute. "This is a classic case of the use of power by an agent." said a person familiar with the inside story. "If you deal with Jorge, you will always be dragged into a bidding war, and this will ultimately benefit him."
无论如何，门德斯在最后一刻迫使罗纳尔多改变了主意。 “这是代理人使用权力的经典案例。”一位熟悉内幕的人说。 “如果您与豪尔赫打交道，您将永远被卷入一场竞标战，这最终将使他受益。”
Wenger never forgave Mendes. If Wenger and Mendes participated in the same event, he would almost never try to hide his inner feelings. "
On the other hand, Ferguson and Mendes are getting closer and closer, and in the following years he signed Nani, Anderson and De Gea players through his contacts. Kenyon also knew many of Mendes’ clients, including Mourinho.
Wenger once described missing a contract with Ronaldo as "the last regret in life". In European football, Arsenal has also become one of the few giants that always keep a distance from Mendes' players.
Is this a coincidence? "Probably not." A friend of Wenger's said.
In that friendly match with Portuguese Sports, all Manchester United players realized that Ronaldo would soon grow into a super star. "Scholes, Bart and I all said:'We have to sign that guy.'" Ferdinand said, "You know, we just missed Ronaldinho, so we need a top player. O'Shea sits On the lawn, it looks like there is no oxygen."
As one of the Manchester United substitute players, Danny Pew recalled: "About 15 minutes after the game, everyone on the bench opened their mouths. Everyone liked him. I remember that after the game, the team The bus stopped off the court for a while, because the head coach and the club CEO need to work hard to speed up the progress of the transaction."
Ferdinand said: "Someone told us that the coach and the CEO are talking about Ronaldo's transfer, so we won't be annoyed by the late departure of the bus."
"The reason why we were able to attract Ronaldo to join, Ferguson also played an important role." Kenyon recalled.
"Ferguson rarely promises game time to players. His mantra is that you must strive for the glory of playing for Manchester United. But when he talked to Ronaldo:'You will play for the first team. I won't tell you. How much game time you can get depends on you, but if you join Manchester United, we will not let you sit on the bench.'This promise is very important."
Two days later, Ronaldo took a private jet to Manchester to sign with Manchester United, with an annual salary of more than 1.5 million pounds.
"We are both happy and frustrated, because we know that the club is selling a player destined to have a bright future." Freitas said.
"We are in a disadvantaged position in the negotiation. The player wants to leave and start the next chapter of his career. Manchester United has provided a good transfer fee, but you will never be happy to sell a player with great potential. ."
In any case, Portuguese sports is always much happier than Manchester United's competitors. Such as Liverpool.
"For so many years, people always said that we fell and staggered." Thompson said, "it is not the case. We don't know what happened (I will not guess), but within 24 to 48 hours, Ronaldo The transfer fee soared by £8.2 million."
"I called Tony Henry:'What's going on?' Tony's answer was:'I know what you would say.' Tony explained that he answered the phone after getting off the plane and the person on the other end told him : "Don't get involved with this transaction." Just like that, everything has changed."
However, according to other sources close to Ronaldo’s transfer negotiations, the reason why Liverpool failed to sign Ronaldo was entirely because of hesitation and slow action. This may be because Liverpool have just signed Harry Kewell from Leeds United, and also signed two other young players Pangler and Anthony Le Talay (they are asking for much less salary than Ronaldo), and they feel they need to be cautious Consider whether to sign another 18-year-old player for a big price.
An Arsenal source admitted that Manchester United finally "made money" because they sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee six years later.
There is a repurchase clause in the contract between Manchester United and Portuguese Sports, so I asked Portuguese Sports whether it is willing to sign Ronaldo-of course, Portuguese Sports will certainly not be able to come up with 80 million pounds.