By: Latifa Zaine
On Sept. 11, 2021, soccer fans worldwide sat in anticipation, patiently waiting for the game to start. Then, finally, fans across the globe donned his jersey in support of one of the most stunning transfers of the season. After 4,490 days, Cristiano Ronaldo was finally back.
“When I found out he was coming back to Manchester United, I was so excited,” said Jack Duffy, a sophomore soccer player at UT.
Ronaldo’s first game back at Manchester United was against Newcastle United. However, the 36-year-old Portuguese international did not hold back.
As the first half was nearing an end, Mason Greenwood did what he always does. He cut inside from the right before drilling it in with his left foot. A deflection from a Newcastle defender sent it directly to the goalkeeper. The ball then bounced off the keeper’s arms and straight to Ronaldo, setting him up perfectly for an easy tap-in.
“I felt like a little kid again watching him play,” said Ruben Barahona, sports management major. “I had flashbacks to when I was a kid.”
Minutes after Javier Manquillo equalized for Newcastle United; Luke Shaw set Ronaldo up perfectly to put the reds back ahead. According to the BBC, the forward hit a top speed of 32.5kmph during the run he made for his second goal.
Ronaldo ran to the Stratford end after scoring his goals to do his signature celebration in front of thousands of Manchester United fans.
“I remember watching him when he was on the team more than ten years ago, and now that I get to watch him play in the Premier League again is just a dream come true,” said Duffy.
Manchester United went on to win the game 4-1, with additional goals from Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard. This put the team at the top of the Premier League table on goals scored.
“Seeing the Manchester United fans responding to Ronaldo coming back was amazing,” said Callie Wilson, a sophomore. “They were all chanting for him at his first game. It was fun to see how everyone reacted to him coming back.”
Ronaldo’s beautiful form didn’t stop there. Just 13 minutes into his first Champions League game back in a red jersey, Fernandes beautifully set Ronaldo up to put the reds ahead. A red card from Wan Bissaka put the reds down a man, which Young Boys FC capitalized on to win the game 2-1.
Ronaldo had just come back from scoring his 111th goal for Portugal, breaking the record for most international goals scored in men’s soccer. After 19 years in the game, Ronaldo still can’t stop scoring.
All eyes will be on Ole’s boys in red on Sunday in their game against West Ham United as they try to make amends for the loss in the Champions League. It has been eight years since Manchester United won the Premier League and 13 years since they won the Champions League. Many see Ronaldo as the missing piece they need to win these trophies they’ve long desired.
“It’s almost as if he’s going back to his roots after being away for so long; I wouldn’t be surprised if this marks a pivot in his career,” said Nola Myers, sophomore soccer player.