Cristiano Ronaldo had arrived at Manchester United in 2003. Ronaldo was already a superstar at United by the time he was joined by fellow Portuguese Nani, who joined the Red Devils from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2007.
Nani was made to feel at home as Ronaldo opened his house, which he was already sharing with another United recruit Anderson.
Speaking in the latest edition of the UTD Podcast, Nani recalled the time he spent with Ronaldo and how often he was involved in various challenges with his host.
“Anderson was in Porto for like a year so I didn’t know so much about him,” explains Nani in our latest UTD Podcast. “I knew he was a great player because, as soon as he arrived at Porto, he was making a difference in the league. So I knew who he was but we were not friends at that time.
“I knew him as a player and, very fast after we met in Manchester at the same time, we became friends. We were living for a month in the same house with Cristiano. It was fun for a month. We’d challenge ourselves a lot. We had some great, funny moments and helped each other so much. That’s why it was not so hard for me in the beginning and for Anderson too.
“Cristiano was very competitive. When you’re staying in his house for a day, it means he challenges you at any time. He had a swimming pool, a tennis court and ping-pong table. Sometimes, it’s just competing to see who knows who’s telling the truth, or who is right about something. Every time, there was a discussion to see who was right or who was better.
“The only time we were not playing was the night time, we’d sit on the sofa talking and Cristiano would just disappear [to bed]. We’d learn because me and Ando would be very tired when we woke up. He’d already been up two hours earlier, checking the news and would say: ‘Okay, let’s go’.
“He was the only one who had a car then, in the beginning, so we had to be ready to go with him. Fantastic moments and great memories we have.”
When Ronaldo left for Real Madrid comparisons were rife with Nani.
Reflecting back at the time, Nani said, “I’d not let it affect me as my focus was not on there but, after, when I had more responsibility in Manchester, when Cristiano left, at the beginning it was a little bit difficult.”
“There were a lot of comparisons and it looks like you need to prove yourself every time, to do the same or as good as him, when you are a different player,” Nani explained.