Cristiano Ronaldo has paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson as the former Manchester United forward prepares for a “special” return to Old Trafford with Juventus.
United host Juve in a Champions League on Tuesday, which will see the 33-year-old back at Old Trafford as an opposition player once again, after he scored to help Real Madrid knock United out of the 2013 competition.
Ronaldo – who won three Premier Leagues, the Champions League and the Club World Cup at United under Ferguson – sent a “big hug” to the Scot, who was welcomed back to Old Trafford in September after undergoing brain surgery in May.
“It is special for me to return to Manchester,” said Ronaldo, who has scored five goals in 10 games since joining Juve from Real Madrid in the summer.
“Here I have many memories of victories and affection and in particular with Sir Alex Ferguson, to whom I send a big hug. He is a person who helped me so much.”
Despite his familiarity with United, Ronaldo says the fixture will not be easy and that Massimiliano Allegri’s side “have their weapons”.
“I know it’s going to be tough, but I think we have a chance,” he said. “We have to respect Manchester United, because they have a fantastic team, they have an experienced coach, but I expect Juve to win the game.
“It will be a difficult game. Manchester are a good team, they play at home and it will be tough for us. But we have our weapons.”
Ronaldo has returned from suspension to make the United game, having been sent off in Juve’s opening group win away to Valencia and then banned for the win over Young Boys.
“The Champions League started two games ago, even if I’m returning now,” he said. “It doesn’t matter that I was sent off and then didn’t play. We are in a great position and a win tomorrow will go a long way.”