It soon became clear that Ronaldo sought to fulfil his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid. Sir Alex convinced him to stay at United for one more year, enough time for him to help the Reds win a third consecutive Premier League title and become world club champions in Tokyo and, on a personal level, be crowned Ballon d’Or winner for the first time, aged 23. After playing in a second consecutive Champions League final, as United were beaten by a brilliant Barcelona side in Rome, Ronaldo bid farewell to Manchester and moved to Madrid.
On 6 July 2009, 80,000 people crammed into the Santiago Bernabeu to watch the world’s most expensive footballer being unveiled. An astonishing 450 goals in 438 games followed as Ronaldo became the all-time top goalscorer at Real Madrid. Along the way, he helped the Spanish giants to achieve the much sought-after La Decima – their 10th European Cup, in 2014 – and win 15 major trophies in total. As he did with United, Cristiano won every trophy available to Real – and most of them on more than occasion.