Cristiano Ronaldo could have had it so much more difficult at the José Alvalade stadium on 7 August 2003. Manchester United had played four matches in a vibrant tour of the United States, scoring 14 goals in four games and taking in Seattle, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Philadelphia. The European comedown ensured a weaker squad and John O'Shea - about to make his auspicious debut season a distant memory - started directly against him and United's midfield consisted of Nicky Butt, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Kieran Richardson and David Bellion.

O'Shea would later joke how he helped Ronaldo get his £12.24m transfer to United, so helpless was he against the man from Madeira. Phil Neville arrived to double up as the pair took turns at administering the odd kick, but Ronaldo's resilience was apparent even then. Five days later, he was a Manchester United player.

cristiano ronaldo

Shame about the jumper

Arsenal, Liverpool and Barcelona all allegedly missed out or passed on the opportunity to sign the scrawny, acned 18-year-old until United "accelerated" their own negotiations.

"We have been negotiating for Cristiano for quite some time," Sir Alex Ferguson explained. "But the interest in him from other clubs accelerated in the last few weeks so we had to move quickly to get him.

"He is one of the most exciting young players I've ever seen."

And he remains one of the most exciting players any United supporter of any age has ever seen. He won eight trophies and scored 118 goals from 292 games during his six years at the club and became the best player in the world.

Here's that glorious era in pictures...

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  • Dazzling in Lisbon on 7 August 2003...

  • Signing for United on 12 August

  • Smiles all round despite the Versace jumper

  • "I'll be the end of you here, Ruud."

  • Unveiled with fellow Portuguese speaker Kléberson. The less said about him the better...

  • Thumbs up all-round after a vibrant debut against Bolton, 16 August '03

  • Reeling from Radostin Kishishev's tackle at Charlton away, September '03

  • Aggro with Arsenal, September '03

  • The first of 118, vs Portsmouth, November '03

  • A first derby goal in the Valentine's Day FA Cup win, 2004

  • Sir Alex and Walter Smith look unimpressed by the braids

  • A bad hair day but a good goal against Spurs, March '04

  • Tormenting Clichy in the cup semi-final, April '04

  • The first of four red cards at Villa Park, May '04. It was later rescinded

  • Breaking the deadlock vs. Millwall in the '04 cup final

  • Skinnier times

  • The first of eight trophies

  • Unable to crack a smile after a belated first goal of the season against Southampton, December '04

  • Putting Arsenal to the sword again with the first of a brace...

  • His double contributed to a superb 4-2 win for United in their penultimate game at Highbury, February '05

  • A second red card at Manchester City, January 2006

  • Not Ronaldo's first goal from a free-kick, but the first of his valve-specials came against Fulham, February '06

  • Celebrating a second successive brace the following week at Fratton Park

  • Receiving some friendly Scouse advice, February '06

  • Showing off against Wigan in the League Cup final, February '06

  • Trophy no.2

  • No World Cup hangover as Ronaldo and Rooney run riot against Fulham on the opening day of the season in a 5-1 win, August '06

  • A second free-kick against Portsmouth, November '06

  • Celebrating a crucial match-winner at Fulham after a sublime solo run, February 2007

  • Savouring a first Champions League goal in The 7-1 against Roma, April '07

  • A scrappy opener against Milan, April '07

  • Title no.1, May '07

  • A third red card at Fratton Park, August '07

  • Asking for forgiveness after heading in the winner at former club Sporting, September '07

  • A third, and best, free-kick against Portsmouth, January 2008

  • Iconically kitted out in tribute to the Busby Babes against City, February '08

  • Channeling the spirit of Denis Law with a phenomenal header in Rome, April '08

  • An impudently ingenious flick against Villa, April '08

  • Title no.2, May '08

  • Scoring in the Champions League final, May '08

  • Despair

  • Relief

  • Glory

  • Reminding Aston Villa fans who's number one, November '08

  • A harsh red card and his second at Eastlands, November '08

  • The infamous self-withdrawal against Sunderland, December '06

  • Flanked by United's past Ballon d'Or winners Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton, with George Best there in spirit, December '08

  • Heading big in Japan against Gamba Osaka, December '08

  • World champion

  • World Player of the Year, 2008

  • A second League Cup, March '09