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FIRST MATCH NERVES?

What happened in every one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-team debuts?

How did Ronaldo get on in his first games for Sporting, Man United, Real Madrid and Portugal?

Making your debut can’t be easy.

It’s like your first day at work, except you’ve got thousands of people watching you and you’re heckled every time you do something wrong.

Cristiano Ronaldo has plenty of experience when it comes to debuts.

The poor lad looks terrified

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The poor lad looks terrified

He began his career at Sporting then had to take his first steps for Man United, Real Madrid and Portugal, each bringing different challenges.

So how did he get on in his first game for each club?

We can’t stop looking at his jumper

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We can’t stop looking at his jumper

Sporting (14 August 2002)

What better stage to take you first steps for your boyhood club than the Champions League? Well, Champions League qualification rounds.

He was included on the bench as Sporting took on an Inter side featuring Christian Vieri in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Both sides were without their respective European Golden Boot winners, with Mario Jardel absent for Sporting and Ronaldo absent for Inter.

Mario was missing

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Mario was missing

CR7 came off the bench in the 58th minute, playing on the opposite flank to fellow maverick winger Ricardo Quaresma.

Neither side were able to find the breakthrough and Ronaldo wasn’t included in the Sporting squad for the second leg.

A Ronaldo-less Sporting went down 2-0 in the San Siro, giving the teenager his first taste of Champions League defeat.

The vertical versus horizontal stripes derby

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The vertical versus horizontal stripes derby

Man United (16th August 2003)

Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford too late to take part in their pre-season games, although he’d been on the opposite side in their penultimate game, much to dismay of United’s defence.

He was introduced off the bench to a standing ovation in the 61st minute during United’s first game of the season, against Bolton, with the score at a precarious 1-0.

Cue a festival of football. Lollipops, rainbows and rabonas were out in force as Ronaldo announced himself to the Premier League with a tour de force of (pretty pointless) skills.

A star is born

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A star is born

He was instrumental in all three second-half goals as Bolton’s tired defence was stretched by Ronaldo’s pace and trickery.

He won a penalty, earning an enthusiastic but probably slightly confusing slap from Roy Keane.

By the end of the game the Old Trafford faithful realised they had a special talent on their hands.

Use a tissue next time Ronnie

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Use a tissue next time Ronnie

Portugal (20 August 2003)

Ronaldo’s United career was only four days old when he made his international bow for Portugal against Kazakhstan.

What should have been a routine win- Portugal had Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Deco in their midfield- turned into something of a slog.

Ronaldo was introduced at half-time, with Portugal sneaking a 1-0 win through a scrappy goal from Simao.

From Bolton to Kazakhstan, who said football isn’t glamorous?

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From Bolton to Kazakhstan, who said football isn’t glamorous?

Real Madrid (20 July 2009)

There’s one word for Ronaldo’s Madrid debut. Anticlimax.

It came against the mighty Shamrock Rovers in front of 11,000 people at the Tallaght Stadium.

It was 45 minutes of Sunday League standard football.

It’s not right seeing CR7 in the no.9 shirt

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It’s not right seeing CR7 in the no.9 shirt

He was withdrawn at half-time, with Manuel Pellegrini keen to keep everyone fit and fresh ahead of a long pre-season.

Madrid eventually won the game 1-0 through a goal from Karim Benzema.

But it’s fair to say it isn’t a game that’ll live long in the memory, unless you’re Pat Flynn, Sean O’Connor or any of the other Shamrock players who featured on that night.


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