Cristiano Ronaldo has a mixed record against Manchester City, with five goals and two red cards in 13 games amounting to a relatively modest return – eight wins is not bad, though.
Perhaps his finest hour at the City of Manchester Stadium came in May 2007, when he converted a 34th-minute penalty to earn Manchester United a narrow win – preserved by a late spot-kick save at the other end from Edwin van der Sar. Twenty-four hours later, Chelsea’s failure to beat Arsenal meant Sir Alex Ferguson’s team were champions.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
“There have been a few described as ‘the new George Best’ over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me,” said the Northern Irishman shortly after Ronaldo’s United debut in 2003. Then the most expensive teenager in English football history, the Sporting CP product lived up to the billing, winning three championships and, in 2008, the UEFA Champions League and Ballon d’Or. If anything, he has done even better since joining Real Madrid in 2009, with a return of more than a goal a game.
2. Nedum Onouha
Nigerian-born, Manchester-bred, Onouha spent over a decade on City’s books. A fine athlete (he still holds the national Under-15 record for the standing triple jump), he was 17 when he made his first-team debut and won 20 U21 caps. He was always in and out of the team at City, hampered by injury and later competition for places. The centre-back made 116 appearances before leaving in 2012 for Queens Park Rangers where, now 29, he remains as captain.
3. Sylvain Distin
A towering, left-footed centre-back, Distin was 23 when he arrived from his native France for a season on loan at Newcastle United in 2001. Over 15 years on, he is still in England. He made 200 appearances apiece for City and Everton, but his only medal came between the two spells when he lifted the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008. Now 38 and at Bournemouth, Distin has taken his tally of Premier League games beyond 475 – more than any other player from outside the UK.
4. Wayne Rooney
England’s all-time leading scorer, Rooney burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Everton in 2002 with a sensational last-minute clincher against Arsenal. He moved to Old Trafford in 2004 and remains there. At United, he has picked up five league titles, the 2008 UEFA Champions League, the captaincy and many individual awards. Once an out-and-out striker, at 30 he now has a more all-round role and is set to spearhead England’s challenge at UEFA EURO 2016 this summer.
5. Michael Carrick
Quiet and unassuming off the pitch; quiet and unassuming on it. West Ham product Carrick had big shoes to fill when he arrived at Old Trafford from Tottenham in 2006 and was handed the No16 shirt vacated by Roy Keane. He has done it his own way, breaking up the play in midfield and distributing with a style not always common among his compatriots. Now 34, Carrick has played over 400 games for United and 34 more for England.
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