Football Dream Team of the 2000s
Here he is, one of the key athletes of the new millennium and my favorite foosball player in particular. So don’t be surprised by the vast size of this article. After all, I began to admire his game back in the first half of the zeros. During this time, I have accumulated many memorable moments and emotions directly related to this man.
- Childhood and Youth
- Manchester United
- – 2003/2004 Season
- — UEFA Euro 2004
- – 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 Seasons
- — 2006 FIFA World Cup
- – 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 Seasons
- — UEFA Euro 2008
- – 2008/2009 Season
- Real Madrid
- Life after the 2000s
Childhood and Youth of CR7
The hero of today’s material was born on February 5, 1985, in the modest town of Funchal, which is on the island of Madeira (Portugal). As a child, the boy lived relatively poor. The future legend of the football world practiced his technique even during school breaks, using socks… instead of a ball.
As time went on, the skills of young Cristi grew enormously fast. At the age of fifteen, the boy came to the attention of Jose Mourinho, who at the time was still unknown. However, either because of a lack of funds or because of the very high price, the deal could not occur, and the two future symbols of Portuguese football went their separate ways.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Zeros
Probably no one can change my mind that Cristiano Ronaldo showed the most beautiful performances at Manchester United. On Foggy Albion, he tore his opponents apart, thanks to his excellent technique in the mix with his explosive speed. At Real Madrid, on the other hand, it was more about scoring goals. This thing is neither good nor bad. It’s just that Ronaldo’s style of play upgraded to suit specific objectives.
I fell in love with the game of millions due to the audacious nineteen-year-old boy who played for the Portuguese national team at Euro 2004. The way he dared to go into the dribbling, the elegant tricks he performed… for me, it was something absolutely new and fascinating.
Yes, I’ve seen football games before. But I’ve never seen such a bright player there that I wanted to watch more than the others. So the channel switched to the next one pretty quickly. I agree. There were some outstanding performers. Zidane, for example. However, he saw many good players at the club (Figo, Ronaldo) and the national team (Vieira, Henry).
Even though Cristi played with masters of the same class, I realized that he would be a different caliber player (no offense to Luis Figo and the legends of Manchester United). And ten years later, Zinedine himself admits that C. Ronaldo is the best player in his club’s history.
But it’s still a long way from that time because we are now in the early 2000s. To be more precise, we are basking in the sun of the 2003’s summer. Somewhere people are already reverently waiting for the presentation of the Nokia N-Gage, and our young Portuguese is stepping on the lawn of the Theater of Dreams (it’s Old Trafford’s unofficial name) for the first time.
Less than a month ago, he was wearing a Sporting shirt when he tortured John O’Shea on the left flank in a friendly match between MU and the Lisbon team. Sir Alex Ferguson, in his autobiography, revealed the secret of this game. It turns out that he was the initiator of it to conduct a kind of test of young talent. After the game, half of the Manchester United players insistently asked Fergie to buy this young guy.
That period was not the most positive for MU. David Beckham quarreled with the head coach in the spring and got a boot in his face. At the beginning of the off-season, Fergie sold Becks to Real Madrid, and Ronaldinho was already considered his replacement. The Brazilian alien was already showing good performances for PSG and the national team. But Barcelona was more agile and took him to their place.
It didn’t take long for red Manchester to mourn. The new owner of the legendary 7 was the future best player in the history of football (IMHO). But watching the matches and listening to the commentators, I had the impression that I was the only one who understood at that moment the whole perspective of this kid.
Analysts thought Quaresma was the most promising in the national team and Rooney was this one in MU (he will come in 2004 for a much higher price than Cristiano Ronaldo). However, as happens in life, time has honestly put everyone in their proper places.
The first season was pretty good for Cristiano. He played 40 matches and scored six goals. Thanks to this, Ron was called up by Scolari for the upcoming international tournament.
UEFA Euro 2004
The world had not heard about the new Symbian with 3G support until the summer, and Cristi was not considered a starter 11 performer for the national team. The coach preferred to use Simao Sabrosa at this position (he was a pretty good winger, by the way). That’s why Ron started in the first two matches as a substitute option, although he scored in the first game after coming on as a sub. Simao was on the bench in the rest of the matches (up to the final), while C. Ronaldo made me fall in love with football.
The European Brazilians went through the group stage with nerves. First, they sensationally lost to Greece and then had to fight hard against their Iberian Peninsula neighbors (Spain) to reach the playoffs. It ended with a slippery 1-0 victory and a quarterfinal exit to full of stars England. Even ardent optimists were afraid to make predictions, but CR7 passed Rooney and co.
In the semifinals, the Netherlands was waiting for our hero. From that squad, I included four legends in my symbolic team of the 2000s: goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, defender Jaap Stam and midfielders Edgar Davids and his good friend Clarence Seedorf. In addition, Cristiano’s teammate Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who was at the peak of his game form, also played for the Orange. But Ronaldo scored a goal and Portugal secured a ticket to the final. It means a lot to beat such masters at the age of nineteen.
I don’t remember if I cried like Cristiano at the end of the final match, but the feelings were hard. That Greece “bus” won again. I wonder how Mourinho felt at the time? When your compatriots are losing in the final to the team with your trademark style. The only consolation for Cristiano Ronaldo was the title of the best young player of the Euro and enrollment in the symbolic team of the tournament.
2004/2005 and 2005/2006 Seasons
During this period, smartphones were steadily gaining popularity, just like the young Cristi among football fans. He was learning to convert his tricks into goals, and these two seasons were a kind of dress rehearsal. After them, Ron will not leave the lists of the top scorers until the middle of the 2020s.
Traditionally, he mocked opponents on his right flank (yes, for Ronaldo, Man Utd tactical coaches chose a right midfielder position), sometimes switching sides with Ryan Giggs in the course of a match. The most memorable moment of that period of CriRo’s career for me was his goal to Portsmouth on February 11, 2006. The Portuguese had just turned 21 a week earlier. And some commentators, as I recall now, derisively called him a “circus pony.” But he shut them up pretty quickly by his shows.
Moving from the right flank to the center, Ron picked up the ball and dared to take a long-range shot with his left foot. The ball flew between Paddy Kenny’s “ears,” and Cristi started to celebrate the goal with his facial expression as if to show the critics: “Guys, keep it quiet there, keep it quiet.” By the way, I put that pic on the cover of this material. I remember running to our “youth forum,” the computer club, immediately after the game ended to tell the guys about that goal.
Interestingly, I was the only ardent Ronaldo fan among the boys in my neighborhood at the time. Most of them were singing praises for Ronaldinho and Kaka. On the eve of the 2006 World Cup, I even got Cristiano’s T-shirt, which was the only one of the players’ uniforms I’d ever bought. It also had the 17th number (the 7th one was “occupied” by captain Luis Figo).
I have very fond memories of this purchase. Let me start with the fact that it was summer in Odessa. While vacationing at the resort with great company, I was lucky enough to buy that particular T-shirt, which was very hard to get in Ukraine at that moment. So when I finally owned it, I practically never parted with it.
I wore it to football training as well as to hang out with friends. My whole hometown knew that I was a big fan of Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a shame that it’s a little tight on me right now. But maybe I’ll put it on my wall as a museum piece that conveys my nostalgic emotions in the future.
2006 FIFA World Cup
During the World Cup, two unpleasant things happened. Firstly, it became known that the N-Gage project was closing down. Secondly, there was a fight between Rooney and C. Ronaldo, which the English fans will not forgive CR7 in a short time.
The tournament began very well. Cristiano scored from the penalty spot against Iran, and Portugal defeated all the opponents in the group. In the first match of the playoffs, the Dutch team was passed not without nerves, a victory with 1-0. The Quarterfinal against the founders of football was just as tense. The main and extra time ended with a draw. CriRo scored the decisive penalty kick. In addition, he furiously appealed to the referee when Rooney stepped on the groin of a Portuguese defender Carvalho. Wayne got the red card, and there was a scuffle between the teammates on the pitch.
The next two matches were both lost. First, Zidane scored a penalty to lead France to the final, and then in the third-place match, Germany won the duel against the European Brazilians. 3-0 by 88 minutes of the game and a goal of prestige by Nuno Gomes from Figo’s pass, who spent his last match in the national team shirt.
In general, Ronaldo had an ambiguous World Cup. On the one hand, the team got to the semifinals (which in itself is a very decent result), but on the other hand, Cristiano failed in many things and often showed nervous emotions, rather than a good game. However, as we can see, the failures only harden the true masters (and our hero is undoubtedly one of them).
If I make a small remark about Cristiano’s development as a world-class performer, I should state that he was lucky with his teachers. I think it was thanks to them that the uncut diamond became a brilliant one. Yes, Cristi himself was very talented, hardworking, and disciplined in terms of training. You can’t take that away from him, and that was the foundation of his success.
However, the difference between just a great player and a football legend was made by Ronaldo’s partners and coaches, not least of all. Let’s start with the first ones. In the national team, there was the experienced Luis Figo (a creative midfielder, winner of the Golden Ball) and Pedro Pauletta (less famous, but in his style, Cristo often played at the 30+ age). At the club, every partner is either an emerging star or a member of Man Utd’s 1992 class of youth graduates (which was awesome, believe me).
Among the coaches, the picture was no less impressive. Portugal was led by Luiz Felipe Scolari (2002 World Cup winner) and at MU… I get goosebumps when I think of Sir Alex. Probably the best manager in the history of football. I understand that especially clearly now when no one has been able to bring the team back to the level he set when he left. And that’s even though numerous winners of the Champions League (the most prestigious club tournament in the world) have been at the helm.
2006/2007 and 2007/2008 Seasons
Whenever Ronaldo touched the ball at away matches, the English fans greeted CR7 with a whistle for the next season. But at Old Trafford, everything was fine. In August, Cristiano reconciled with Rooney, and in the first match of the new season, they had a fairy tale of mutual affection. One was passing, the other was scoring, and vice versa.
Then C. Ronaldo made a bet with Ferguson that he would score more than ten goals in the championship next year. The result was 17. This parlay cost Sir Alex £300. The Portuguese didn’t even want to take them, but Fergie insisted on keeping the agreement in principle. However, both understood that money played no role here.
In the spring of 2007, Cristiano reached the semifinals of the Champions League with MU (till they met Milan and Pippo Inzaghi, who was experiencing his second youth) to lift the trophy over his head a year later. Also, Ronaldo won the English Premier League and became its top scorer with 31 goals.
UEFA Euro 2008
During this year, I remember many low events:
- The revival of N-Gage;
- The presentation of the Android OS;
- A European Championship thematic video (there are two characters named Trix and Flix frolic);
- Ronaldo managed to try on the captain’s armband of his team (but was not yet considered the main cap).
In the group, the Portuguese had guaranteed themselves a playoff spot after the second match, where they faced the Czech Republic. C. Ronaldo scored a goal and gave an assist to Quaresma. But in the quarterfinals, the European Brazilians again faced Germany and lost with almost the same score as two years earlier, 2-3. I can’t say that CriRo played badly in the tournament. He did his best, but his efforts on his own were not enough for the whole team’s success.
At the end of last season, CR7 got the Ballon d’Or. We can call this time the start of the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo because only these two guys will share this award until the end of the next decade. The 08/09 season was Ronaldo’s last in a Manchester United team shirt. He was at his usual powerful level (26 goals in all competitions).
This nuance left no choice to the Real Madrid bosses. They had to break the world transfer record to get the already formed star. And Cristi will return every penny of that money. The title of top scorer in the history of the club and player simultaneously speaks for itself. He left MU with more than 100 goals and thousands of broken hearts of fans around the world.
The summer of 2009 was one of the worst periods in the life of my two hobbies, smartphones and football. First of all, it became known that the N-Gage platform was ultimately closed. And secondly, C. Ronaldo moved from my favorite team to Real Madrid. It was sadder than ever.
On such a melancholy note, the zeros came to an end for me. As significantly dramatized our farewell, as if to emphasize what a wonderful era was leaving.
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C. Ronaldo’s Life after the 2000s
However, life goes on. After all, you can also play N-Gage today, and you can again watch Ronaldo playing for Manchester United as well as for the national team (which he did lead to the title at the European Championship). By the way, CriRo already has the status of the best goal scorer in football history.
To summarize, we have the following picture at the moment:
- The goal best scorer in the history of the Champions League;
- The goal best scorer in the history of European Championships;
- The best in history in the number of goals for the national team.
Finally, Ronaldo broke the record of the legendary Pele for the number of goals during all time. Cristiano was the top scorer in Real Madrid’s history, won additional four Champions Leagues (three of them in a row), and got the Ballon d’Or as many times. In addition, the period at Juventus was similarly fruitful for the Portuguese. He was the top scorer in Serie A in the 2020/2021 season and the winner of the tournament and the Italian Cup.
Cristiano’s hard work and longevity in the sport are already legendary. For example, Gabriel Agbonlahor recently expressed his admiration of the hero of this material. He also said that he is sure that the Portuguese will help his native club, where he grew into a brilliant player.
I remember how in the 2006/2007 season, Cristi was already shining at full strength, and Gabriel had just started to show his serious level (he was one and a half years younger than Ronaldo). And even then, it seemed that Agbonlahor was the next generation guy because Ron was already known for four years. Now a couple of years the Englishman has already finished his career, and the Portuguese are moving to the MU, and at the same time, he is the best player on his team. Think about it. He worked so hard for a reason because he got back a hundredfold payback.
On the day of Ronaldo’s transfer to MU, I met a new little friend. In the morning, there was still no information that Cristiano was coming home. And at that time, while walking around the city, I noticed a kitten with a broken leg. He was petite and covered with many wounds. Apparently, he was fighting with other animals for food and a place to sleep. I decided to bring him into my apartment. I spent the whole day visiting the vet and taking care of the kitten. And in the evening, the sensational news about the return of CR7 to Manchester United was on the news sites.
I was delighted and thought that, in some way, my good deed had contributed to it. In any case, I am now even more convinced that good always wins. And when it came time to choose a name for my new lodger, I wanted to name him precisely like his coat color. However, as it turned out, it was a boy. And the name Ginger is more suitable for girls. So I gave him a double name. That’s how I began to live together with a wonderful baby named Red Manchester.
People should always focus on the positives. Otherwise, what is the point of living? For example, I chose to complain about the world and the passing of my favorite time or try to restore that glorious era. My decision was unequivocal, and its fruits you are now reading. Symbolically, Cristiano returned to Manchester just six months after the launch of my project dedicated to my favorite decade. He returned my zeros!
Moreover, CR7 could at the very moment finish his career and already be one of the best (or even the best) players in the history of football. Now he is just flying in a space where no one has ever been before. I mean, at least all possible records on efficiency. And he continues to reach new heights. The fact that he returned to MU (while being a football legend and people will remember CriRo for hundreds of years) only increases his value in my eyes as a Manchester United fan.
So, friends, I wish you health and optimism. See you in the new materials of the Smart2000s project. Good luck!
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