Cristiano Ronaldo might have seemed destined to join Manchester City at one point, but those within the Old Trafford community were always confident his affection for Man Utd gave them a fighting chance.
The 36-year-old seemed to be on the verge of completing the switch to the Etihad before the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand intervened and convinced him to return to Manchester United.
According to The Mirror, Ronaldo was seriously considering a move to City, but once United entered the race there was going to be one winner.
Portugal’s captain has maintained contact with several people from his time at the club, including Evra and Ferdinand, but also keeps in touch with several members of the backroom staff from behind the scenes.
It’s clear United are not just another club to him and one incident with Jose Mourinho in a Champions League match between Juventus and United in November 2018 exemplified that perfectly.
The Red Devils ran out 2-1 winners in Turin but Ronaldo took exception to Mourinho’s celebrations at full time.
A member of United’s staff told ESPN : “We had just beaten Juve with two late goals and Jose Mourinho, the manager at the time, went onto the pitch and started to goad the Juventus fans by cupping his ear to the noise.
“A lot of the players were pissed off with [Mourinho] because it seemed like he was making the win about him rather than the team and Cristiano was furious with him, too.
“He walked past and said, ‘[Mourinho] doesn’t have the class to manage Manchester United.’
“We’ve always known that Ronaldo loved his time at Old Trafford, but I think what people outside the club don’t appreciate is how much he still cares, and always has, about what happens here.”
It wasn’t just the phone calls from Ferdinand, Evra and Ferguson that persuaded Ronaldo to join United, it was a joint effort from many more affiliated with the club.
International teammate Bruno Fernandes played his part too and joked after the announcement that he should be called “agent Bruno”.
Ronaldo’s former teammate, Darren Fletcher, who is now United’s technical director was involved in negotiations as his pitch to the player was about “completing unfinished business at Old Trafford and writing a new chapter rather than trying to relive the past.”