Former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo won two League Cup titles as a Red Devil. This year, however, Ronaldo won’t be earning a medal should United triumph at Wembley.
This Sunday, United battle Newcastle United for bragging rights and their first piece of silverware in the competition since 2017. Ronaldo’s infamous exit happened in December, meaning he did not play a part in United’s third-round win against Aston Villa.
Ronaldo’s first outing in the competition came in 2003 when it was known as the Carling Cup. West Brom came out winners that day. However, it was plain to see that Ronaldo had all the makings of a star. Seventy-seven minutes into the game, he was pulled from the game and replaced by Daniel Nardiello (via Daily Star).
Nardiello never featured for United in the Premier League. Nonetheless, the academy graduate did manage four appearances across all competitions. Recounting his experiences with Ronaldo at Old Trafford, Nardiello said:
“I remember him signing, he was in and around the club, but I didn’t realise I’d come on for him.”
“I remember coming on. West Brom is not too far from where I grew up, so I knew a few people in the stadium. But I had no idea I’d come on for Ronaldo.”
From talented youth to one of football’s greatest
Nardiello recalls seeing Ronaldo’s apparent ability but confesses he could never have imagined he’d go on to achieve all that he has.
“You knew he was good, but you’d never predict he would go on to do what he’s done, one of the best players that’s ever lived. But who could predict that?
“He was a tall, skinny teenager, younger than me, with broken English. He was impressive, but to go on and do what he’s done, I don’t think anyone could predict that.
“I remember always seeing him in the gym, working his butt off, he’s always had that work ethic, and that’s why he’s done what he has. He’s got unbelievable ability, but he went that extra mile.
Lifelong work ethic
Nardiello remembers the wise words of Sir Alex Ferguson, himself a firm believer in work ethic.
“Fergie always used to say you can be an unbelievable player, but if you haven’t got that work ethic, you won’t get anywhere.”
Nardiello claims the mantra stuck with Ronaldo, and he witnessed Ronaldo practice it religiously, saying:
“Ronaldo took that on board, or had it built in him, and he worked and worked. He’s still an absolute machine. But that’s what all elite athletes have to be like.”
A new career
With his memory of replacing Ronaldo in the Carling Cup as his claim to fame, Nardiello went on to chase success in the Football League. He scored in a successful League One play-off final for Barnsley. He also earned promotion with Blackpool.
Now, at 40, Nardiello dedicates himself to helping footballers manage their money while avoiding falling prey to scams. Nardiello was a victim of scamming during his playing days. He explained:
“I work with anybody and everybody.”
“I do have quite a few footballers as clients, which is great because I can help prepare for life after football, get them saving and investing in the best possible way. I’ve got more than 50 professional players. But I do work with business owners, lawyers, solicitors, all sort of jobs.”
“When I signed, you signed a YTS at 16 and couldn’t sign a professional contract until you was 17. I went to United in the May, and that October, I signed a professional contract.”
“The money now is insane, but it was good money then too. All of a sudden, you’re 17, and you’re earning 50 grand a year. This is 23 years ago. It’s a hell of a lot of money.”
United Matchday Magazine – be in the know about everything in red!
Still itching for more United content? Get everything you need right here. For just £1.25 per issue/£3.75 a month you’ll receive unique insights into United, straight to your inbox – before every match and throughout the month.
- Get the exclusive build-up to each match, plus team news, tactics and history.
- Not only that – United Matchday is jam-packed with articles, news, transfer news, puzzles, nostalgia and humour.
- Impress your friends and be in the know about everything in red!