On Tuesday night, Cristiano Ronaldo became the third youngest player at 27 to reach his 100th international cap when Northern Ireland paid a visit to Portugal.
Despite the game not going to plan at all with Northern Ireland snatching an unexpected point in a 1-1 draw, Ronaldo showed his class by holding a promise to Rio Ferdinand and Oliver Norwood.
Ex-United youngster Norwood, who was at the club for three years before moving to Huddersfield in order to get first team football, had spoken to Ferdinand before the game and asked Ferdinand if he could talk to Ronaldo about getting his shirt – but probably didn’t expect it to really happen.
‘Rio and I have the same agent, and I knew he had kept in touch with Ronaldo from their days together at United. So I phoned him last week and asked if he could put a word in for me. I just explained how much it would mean to have Ronaldo’s shirt, and could he possibly see what the chances were.
‘I was hoping that might do the trick, but I wanted to make sure, so I went up to Ronaldo before the game and introduced myself. He just said: “Yeah, Rio spoke to me. Don’t worry – the shirt’s yours.”
‘A few of the lads went up to him at the end, but he was as good as his word. He wasn’t happy about the way the game had gone and wasn’t exactly in the best of moods, but he actually came over to me, shook hands and said: “I haven’t forgotten. You can have the shirt.”
‘That just rounded off a great night for me. I couldn’t have wished for a better keepsake from such a fantastic occasion. Of all the memorabilia I have picked up during my career, this is far and away the best.
‘I will frame it, as soon as I get it home, and keep it. It will have pride of place among all my football possessions. I will show it to my kids and grandkids in years to come and tell them that’s the shirt Ronaldo wore in his 100th international appearance. I was on the pitch with him, and there’s the evidence. I’m absolutely thrilled with it, and I owe Rio for setting it up for me. It was so good of him, and I am really grateful.’
It might only be a shirt but it is a really nice touch from Ronaldo. That 100th international shirt would of been extremely sought after, so to keep his word and hand it to Norwood on the request of Ferdinand is a real show of respect.
I do hope we get to see Ronaldo back at United in the twilight of his career.