Nine years had already passed since the day Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Madrid, but I still fondly remember the tremendous drama surrounding his transfer from Manchester United as I had followed it too a tee.
It started in 2007, when Real Madrid declared their interest in signing him with then President Ramon Calderon. The club went through two whole seasons of relentless pursuit, resulting in Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous comment in 2008 when Ronaldo had just won the Balon D’or: “I wouldn’t sell them a virus”. But even though Sir Alex was a father figure to Cristiano; The Portuguese star had always reiterated that his dream was to play for Real Madrid. His own mother was even quoted saying “I could die happy” if his son move to Real.
In June 2009, Florentino Perez was elected for his second stint as President, and he clearly expressed that Cristiano Ronaldo will be the “model” signing of the second coming of his Galactico Era. From there, Cristiano’s arrival was just a matter of time. Then on June 26 2009, the inevitable transfer was completed with a then world-record transfer fee of 80 million pounds to Real Madrid.
On July 6 2009, Madridistas around the world rejoiced as Ronaldo, the reigning Balon D’or winner, was revealed at the jam-packed Santiago Bernabeu — where we witnessed the words “uno, dos, tres, Hala Madrid!” from Cristiano for the first time in front of more than 80,000 fans inside the stadium. Headlines during those times were “A Dream Come True”, “The Most Expensive Transfer in Football”, “Ronaldo and Madrid: A Match Made in Heaven”.
Nine years later — after 438 appearances, 450 goals, four Balon D’Or, four Champions League trophy, countless records set and broken, and putting back Real Madrid to the pinnacle of world football — Ronaldo has decided to leave for a new challenge.
Here I am now, as I witness one of the saddest days as a Real Madrid fan. Just like his inevitable arrival in Real Madrid, his inevitable departure from Real Madrid has arrived already, and I guess I was one of those people who did not believe all the news about his potential transfer to Juventus. I was still hoping that those rumours would just fade just as they did in the past years. And even though in the past couple of days the rumours had intensified, I was still hoping that Cristiano would retire in Madrid — just to confirm when he said that he would like to retire in the shirt of Real Madrid before.
The 2009 - 2018 era will be remembered by all Madridistas around the world as the Cristiano Era, and the most successful era of Real Madrid in modern day football. And just like how Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Real Madrid, he will be leaving us as the reigning Balon D’ Or holder — the best football player in the world.
As with all Madridistas, thank you for everything and good luck on your new journey with the Old Lady. Hala Madrid!