Back in 2006, Ruud van Nistelrooy was one of the Premier League’s most deadly and exciting players.
But the Manchester United forward quickly fell out of favour at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson and promptly moved to Real Madrid when he was at the very peak of his powers.
And nobody quite knows why.
But according to former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell – who Fergie often confided in – Cristiano Ronaldo played some part in the Dutchman’s departure.
Campbell’s diary, which is being serialised in the Sunday Times, says: “The last straw was when he told Cristiano Ronaldo he had found a new dad in Carlos [Queiroz, Ferguson’s assistant] – just after Ronaldo’s dad, who was an alcoholic, had died.
“Carlos asked him to show respect and he said he didn’t respect anyone there.
“He later apologised but CR was not having it.
“Alex sent van Nistelrooy home when he heard about it later.
“He was not sure what he was going to do with him.”
As it was Van Nistelrooy left for Real Madrid in July 2006, with Ronaldo taking over his duties in the squad.
It all ended well though, with the Portuguese forward forging a lethal partnership with Wayne Rooney, helping the club secure the Champions League a year later.
What’s more, he did link up with Van Nistelrooy again for one season at Real when Ronaldo made his £80million exit from Manchester.