Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken of his "love" for Manchester United with less than five weeks to go until the Premier League club's last 16 Champions League tie with Real Madrid.
Ronaldo, bought by Sir Alex Ferguson for £12.24m in 2003 at the age of 18, matured into one of the club's greatest players in his six seasons at Old Trafford.
A three-time Premier League champion, he also won two League Cups, an FA Cup, the Champions League, the Club World Cup and a plethora of individual awards, including the 2008 Ballon d'Or.
With his future subject to conjecture and a United return regularly touted, Ronaldo was effusive when asked about the club he left for a world record £80m in 2009.
"I still have great feeling of friendship and love for them, they're a team that have done a lot for my career," he told AS.
"The fans know me well and I have a lot of friends there that I keep close to my heart.
"But now I am defending Real Madrid's colours. It's a bit of a sad feeling I guess, but I want to score, and for us to win, and that would make everything better."
The Portuguese refused to elaborate on his future with Madrid until he has helped the Primera Liga champions atone for a stumbling start to the season.
Ronaldo, 28 in February, said he was "sad" at the Bernabéu for professional reasons back in September and recent reports in Spain suggest he is stalling over an offer to extend his stay beyond 2015.
But the 22-goal forward brushed off any transfer talk, saying: "That subject [his future] has already been spoken about. I won't talk about my contract renewal any more, it's not important.
"The most important thing is winning our next matches. We are contesting La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League and it's important that we all stick together.
"Right now I'm feeling more comfortable with the fans, not just at the Bernabeu, where I've always felt good, but outside too.
"They have shown me a lot of love. I want to pay them back in the best way possible, which is playing well and giving my all for the shirt and helping Madrid get to the top.
Los Blancos face six pivotal league fixtures before United visit the Bernabéu on 12 February.