Exclusive: Juan Sebastián Veron on the Best Coach He Worked With & Playing With Maradona & Messi

A two-time Scudetto winner, Juan Sebastián Veron was one of the stars of Serie A in his generation, with his performances at Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio and Internazionale lighting up the Italian top flight in the 1990s and 2000s. 

The Argentine was part of the Lazio side that ended their 26-year wait for the Scudetto and won the UEFA Cup with that Parma team that also included Gianluigi Buffon, Hernan Crespo and Lilian Thuram.

Gianluigi Buffon

A box-to-box, engine-room creator and free-kick specialist, Veron played at three World Cups, while has had the rare privilege of playing alongside both Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.

?La Brujita caught up with 90min for part two of an exclusive chat about his distinguished career, his best ever coach and the differences between Messi and Maradona.


You played in both the Premier League and Serie A. What are the major differences between the two leagues?

I arrived in ?Serie A at the best time for that league. It was rich in names and football. [It is] a very difficult championship because it’s a very tactical tournament. The Premier League is the opposite – free from all tactics and is about constantly going up and down the pitch. That makes it much easier on the eyes than the Italian league.


You worked with Sir Alex Ferguson. But who was the best coach you ever had and why?

I didn’t pay much attention to the tactical details. In reality, I played, I paid attention, I knew what was being said – because obviously you are obviously within a group – but I always paid a lot of attention to team management, always. For me, the best at that who I worked with was Sven-Goran Eriksson.

I hardly ever experienced any kind of problems in his teams. And they were groups with strong personalities. He got on with everyone very well and ultimately that made us win, especially at Lazio.

?In Serie A, do you think Inter can end Juventus’ reign in Serie A?

The advantage that ?Juve has over others is that they have maintained their identity. Although the Italian league has had many problems, they’ve maintained that identity, that strength of club, of society.

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?Inter has changed hands. Today it seems that it is normalising that situation. As happened to Milan, at Inter a family with very important roots within the club has left. Moratti has gone, like with Berlusconi at Milan.

They are teams that have their history, that are finding, or trying to find, their identity. Juventus obviously kept it. Then they jumped ahead of the rest. Hopefully at some point in the Italian championship, as it was in our time, we will have a title race not only of three teams. During my time it was seven and that makes it much more attractive.

You are rare in that you played with both Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. What are the differences between the two as players?

The era, the speed of football. The personalities, in a good way. Diego marked an era and today Messi is marking his own with different personalities, and different ways to play football.

They are undoubtedly two historic players and we are lucky that they are Argentine.

Argentina's striker Lionel Messi (L) rea

Which one was better?

It is difficult, very complex. Some say Maradona, because he won a World Cup. Those who did not see Maradona and did see Messi are going to tell you Messi. I think those kinds of comparisons with players that have given us so much in football seem very unfair. Such discussions lead to nothing, they seem useless.

Do you think Maradona as a manager can save his new side Gimnasia from relegation?

In football, anything can happen. Undoubtedly [his arrival] generated great enthusiasm. Enthusiasm helps to diffuse many football differences. Then it will depend on the talent of his coaches, his talent and what he can generate on the field. 

Diego Maradona,Juan Sebastian Veron


You can read part one of Juan Sebastián Verón’s exclusive interview with 90min ?here – where he discusses his time in the Premier League with Manchester United, his biggest career regret and the best player he played with.

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5 Way Too Early Predictions About the 2019/20 Champions League After Matchday 1

?The UEFA Champions League roared back into life this week for matchday one of the 2019/20 season, bringing goals, drama and plenty of memorable moments.

Here are five way too early predictions about what will happen in the rest of the campaign…


Dinamo Zagreb Won’t Finish Bottom of Their Group

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Perennial Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb have never been able to translate their domestic dominance into any kind of European success and the club has finished bottom of their Champions League group every time they have reached this stage since 1999.

In both 2011/12 and 2016/17, Dinamo lost all six games. In 2012/13, they got a solitary point, while in 2015/16 they actually beat Arsenal, but lost every other game and still finished fourth.

This time, they have made a flying start by thrashing Italian debutants Atalanta 4-0 on matchday one – winger Miroslav Orsic scored a hat-trick – and will hope to build on that; maybe even eventually matching their 1998/99 group stage points tally of eight.

Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk are the other teams in the group.


Inter Will Flop

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Having, at last, returned to the Champions League last season after a six-year absence, then hiring revered coach Antonio Conte and signing Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Diego Godin and rising Italy starlet Nicolo Barella over the summer, and making a flying start to their Serie A campaign, Inter had been billed as a dark horse in Europe’s elite competition in 2019/20.

They were always going to be up against it after being put in a group with Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, but the Nerazzurri couldn’t even beat Slavia Prague at home to get three points on the board on matchday one, while the other giants entertained each other.

It took a 92nd minute equaliser from Barella just to salvage one point at San Siro after Peter Olayinka had put Slavia on course for a famous win. Unless Inter are going to seriously pull it out of the bag against Barcelona and Dortmund later, they really needed maximum points.


The Top Scorer Will Be Someone ‘New’

FC Salzburg vs KRC Genk  - Champions League Group E

Either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo has been top scorer in the Champions League every season since 2007. The only player who came close to breaking that dominance was Neymar when he tied as joint top scorer with both on 10 goals back in the 2014/15 campaign.

But neither got on the scoresheet on matchday one. Ronaldo’s Juventus scored twice, but he didn’t net either of them, while Messi was returning from injury and only played half an hour of Barcelona’s 0-0 draw against Borussia Dortmund.

There is no doubt that will change, but is it not possible to at least think there might be someone else at the top of the pile for the first time in 12 years?

Red Bull Salzburg could be a surprise package this year. The Austrian champions, who ruthlessly tore apart Genk on Tuesday, have good Europa League pedigree and the longer they stay in the more chance there is for the frightening Erling Håland to add to his tally.

There will be others who fancy their chances – Kylian Mbappe, for one, who will be aided by Paris Saint-Germain’s usual habit of scoring prolifically in the group stage. Liverpool pair Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are others to obviously keep an eye on.


One English Club Won’t Make It Out of the Group Stage

Frank Lampard

Despite Premier League dominance of last season’s Champions League, Manchester City were the only English club to begin the new campaign with a win this week.

Liverpool were beaten in Napoli, while Chelsea lost to Valencia, and Tottenham underperformed during a draw with Olympiacos.

One would expect holders Liverpool to turn things around, although their European away record is now six defeats from their last eight games (excluding neutral finals). The Reds struggled to even get through the group last season, relying on a home win against Napoli on matchday six.

Tottenham will also fancy their chances of recovery, not least because they have made something of a habit of European comebacks over the last 12 months.

The English side most in danger of early elimination is Chelsea. Say what you like, but Frank Lampard is a second-year manager with no experience coaching at this level, while the young players who have been driving the team back home are equally untested in European football.

Defeat at home to a Valencia side in disarray at the start of this season was a bad way to start, and they now find themselves in a very open group where Ajax pose an even greater threat.


Atletico Madrid or Juventus Will Reach the Final

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They lost four consecutive finals between from 2014 to 2017 and this year could be the year that either Atletico Madrid or Juventus return to the showpiece event.

The clubs played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Wanda Metropolitano on matchday one and seem to be among the best equipped to gar far as weaker Real Madrid and Barcelona sides struggle to live up to their previous lofty standards.

Paris Saint-Germain, 3-0 victors over Real this week, have hardly given reason in recent years to suggest they can last the distance after often fading when the knockout stages come around, while Bayern Munich have been getting further and further away from European glory.


Champions League matchday two will take place next month on 1/2 October.

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This Weekend’s 7 Must-Watch Games From Around Europe

?Now we’ve all calmed down after yet another exhilarating mid-week of Champions League action, it’s time to put our domestic football hats back on with a myriad of exciting clashes to look forward to.

The Premier League has already sprung a great deal of surprises this season, with more twists and turns expected in this weekend’s clashes. In mainland Europe, Juventus bizarrely are not top of the Serie A table after three games, while over in Germany the same applies for Bayern Munich. La Liga football is following suit, as Barcelona sit outside the top two after four matches for the first time in, what we can assume, has been about 150 years.

With all that in mind, here are a handful of the fixtures you shouldn’t miss this weekend from across the footballing calendar.


Saturday: Leicester vs. Tottenham (Premier League)

Hugo Lloris,Jamie Vardy

Fixtures against the top six are coming thick and fast for ?Leicester, who will be desperate to bounce back from their narrow 1-0 defeat away at Manchester United last weekend.

Tipped as one of the sides to break into the upper echelons of the ?Premier League this season, home clashes with sides such as Tottenham will provide the perfect platform from which the Foxes can justify such suggestions. 

In ?Spurs’ case, traveling to Greece for their recent Champions League outing on Wednesday before a midday kick off on Saturday may present some issues. But, in truth, the real issue lies in their makeshift defence, that seemingly doesn’t possess a right-back. Those fears were compounded against Olympiakos, when they blew a two goal lead to draw their opening group clash.


Saturday: Werder Bremen vs. RB Leipzig (Bundesliga)

Timo Werner

With a young side flourishing under an equally youthful manager, RB Leipzig have set the benchmark for what is required in the ?Bundesliga this season with some fine displays thus far.

Boasting one of Europe’s hottest strikers in Timo Werner up front, a key creator in Emil Forsberg, and the division’s best defence of last season, this Leipzig side are no longer dark horses for the title.

Coming up against Werder Bremen on Saturday, few would back against the visitors taking the spoils, but having lost their two opening matches Die Werderaner have rallied to win their last two and may pose a threat.


Saturday: AC Milan vs. Inter (Serie A)

Matias Vecino

The Derby della Madonnina is back this weekend with both sides led by managers who are in their first seasons at their respective clubs. This San Siro clash is steeped in rich history, with the two clubs having come to blows on nearly 300 occasions, while also famously sharing a stadium.

Antoino Conte’s ?Nerazzurri currently lead the ?Serie A table with three wins from three matches, while the ?Rossoneri sit three points behind them. Everyone loves a derby, and this fixture rests among the best that world football has to offer, as the late kick-off time will only add to the spectacle under the floodlights.

Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku will also be tasting their first Milan derby, and what better way to endear yourself to your new supporters than by getting one over on your arch rivals?


Sunday: Sevilla vs. Real Madrid (La Liga)

Sergio Ramos

Two unbeaten sides in Spain’s top division come to blows on Sunday with the home side looking to retain their place atop of ?La Liga. Three wins and a draw have placed Sevilla ahead of Los Blancos, who themselves sit two points behind Los Hispalenses ahead of this crunch clash.

Sergio Ramos will be pitted against his former side once more, but what makes this far more engrossing is seeing the response of the ?Madrid players after getting thumped 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Zinedine Zidane questioned the intensity levels shown by his side, something which seems almost unfathomable when that boast Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard up front. This one is set up to be a corker.


Sunday: Chelsea vs. Liverpool (Premier League)

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One totally new-look side takes on a mostly identical team to last season, as Frank Lampard’s ?Chelsea play host to Premier League table-toppers ?Liverpool.

It’s a fixture that has blessed the division on many occasions previously, and while not possessing quite the same aura as before, still pits two top six sides against one another. The early season indications are that the Reds are the team to beat this campaign, but a youthful Blues side may very well spring a few surprises given their sprightly exuberance.

Both sides lost their Champions League openers in midweek, but that should only work to heighten the match as a spectacle with the clubs eager to right the wrongs that saw them come unstuck in Europe.


Sunday: PSV Eindhoven vs. Ajax (Eredivisie)

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These two clubs played out an almighty scrap for Dutch superiority last season, going head-to-head in one of the most enthralling Eredivisie title races in recent memory.

Ajax eventually pipped PSV to the post by three points, yet their quest for the crown looks like following a similar pattern once again if their early season form is anything to go by. 

Once again it is a close-knit battle, with both sides level on 13 points after five matches. Boasting such dominance over the sides below them, these clashes can prove pivotal in deciding who reigns supreme in the Netherlands, no matter how early in the season they are.

Expect goals, drama and flares, plenty of flares.


Sunday: Lyon vs. Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1)

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Despite netting 12 goals and conceding only four, Lyon have somehow managed to only win two of their opening five Ligue 1 matches. 

Hosting the champions, Lyon always welcome Les Parisiens with a hostile atmosphere, which in turn makes for an exciting clash. For Thomas Tuchel’s side, they will be hoping for more of the same they displayed in midweek, after putting the sword to Madrid with a thumping 3-0 win in their Champions League curtain raiser.

Meanwhile, Moussa Dembele currently sits top of the charts in France for goals scored, followed closely by teammate Memphis Depay, meaning the PSG back four will need to be on their toes on Sunday.


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AC Milan vs Inter Preview: Where to Watch, Buy Tickets, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

The first Derby della Madonnina of the year takes place at San Siro on Saturday as Inter and Milan clash in round four of the 2019/20 Serie A season.

Both clubs are under new management, Antonio Conte getting off to a bright start after taking charge of the Nerazzurri in the summer. They were victorious in their first three league games this term, though a stoppage-time Nicolo Barella header was required to grab a point against Slavia Prague on Tuesday night.

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It’s not an ideal start to their ?Champions League campaign, though the situation is worse for their neighbours, who have been banned from entering European competition this year due to a breach of Financial Fair Play regulations

In domestic matters, the ?Rossoneri have won two and lost one, with goals currently at a premium for Marco Giampaolo’s recruits.

Here’s our preview of the ?Milanese meeting.


Where to Watch

?When is Kick Off? Saturday 21 September?
?What Time is Kick Off? ?19:45 (BST)
?Where is it Played? ?San Siro
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?Premier Sports 1
?Referee? ?Giuseppe Meazza

Where to Buy Tickets

Tickets for the game are, as ever, available on both teams’ official club websites, though membership is required in order to purchase. In terms of resale, both teams provide the option to make season tickets available for others to use, if a supporter is unable to attend the game themselves.


Team News

Conte has a full compliment of players to choose from, with summer signings Stefano Sensi and Romelu Lukaku set to make their derby debuts. Fitness issues made Diego Godin wait for a maiden appearance in black and blue, the Uruguayan getting his first start last time out.

Milan counterpart Giampaolo is without two of his first-team squad, one through injury and the other due to suspension.

Marco Giampaolo

A cruciate ligament rupture has kept central-defender Mattia Caldara out of action since May, though he is expected to return in late November.

Right-back Davide Calabaria was dismissed in the dying embers of the victory over Verona. The referee showed him a straight red following a professional foul on opposition frontman Samuel Di Carmine, the 22-year-old now set to sit out the next three games.


Potential Lineups

?Milan Donnarumma; Conti, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Biglia, Kessie, Calhanoglu; Suso, Paqueta; Piatek.?
?Inter ?Handanovic; Godin, de Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi, Asamoah; Martinez, Lukaku. 

Head to Head Record

Milan have triumphed over ?Inter in only three of their last 17 encounters, winning just once in their seven most recent match-ups.

The Nerazzurri have taken the victory on 80 occasions throughout history, four more than their rivals, whilst there have also been 67 draws.

When the pair last did battle, it was Inter who stole the spoils as the Rossoneri twice found themselves with a two-goal deficit to make up in March.

Matias Vecino’s close-range blast and a towering header from Stefan de Vrij gave the Nerazzurri a healthy lead which was swiftly halved when Tiemoue Bakayoko glanced in a Hakan Calhanoglu free-kick shortly before the hour.

Lautaro Martinez restored Inter’s advantage from the spot, with Mateo Musacchio’s scrappy goal scant consolation for Milan in what proved to be manager Gennaro Gattuso’s final derby.


Recent Form

Both sides have failed to win just one match this term, the midweek draw with Slavia ending Conte’s faultless start to life in northern Italy.

Inter were electric as the 50-year-old made his San Sir bow versus Lecce in late August, though they had to show grit and determination to secure victories over Cagliari and Udinese in the following two games.

Lukaku and Sensi – bought for a combined €110m over the off-season – have looked like strong additions to the squad, whilst the defence is also showing signs of improvement.

Krzysztof Piatek

Milan, on the other hand, struggle for goals. In their three competitive fixtures this year, they’ve scored just twice, but that isn’t too pressing an issue for now given the solidity of their backline.

Giampaolo’s men certainly seem in a good position to keep Inter’s attack at arm’s length, yet they’re unlikely to pose too much of a threat at the opposite end of the pitch.

Here’s how the rivals fared in their last five matches:

?Milan? Inter?
Feronikeli 0-2 Milan (10/8) ?Valencia 1-1 Inter *(6-7) (10/8)
??Cesena 0-0 Milan (17/8) ?Inter 4-0 Lecce (26/8)
Udinese 1-0 Milan (25/8) ?Cagliari 1-2 Inter (01/9)
??Milan 1-0 Brescia (31/8) ?Inter 1-0 Udinese (14/9)
?Verona 0-1 Milan (15/9) ?Inter 1-1 Slavia Prague (17/9)

Prediction

Milan will ensure this is a competitive affair. However, it will probably be a contest dominated by Inter, who possess the necessary tools to break their rivals down over the course of 90 minutes.

Conte has various avenues of attack through which he can punish the Rossoneri, ranging from the reinvigorated Lukaku to the aerially-adept centre-backs in his lineup. There is reason to fear what the Nerazzurri have at their disposal.

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Eventually, they should find a way past Gianluigi Donnarumma and once they do, it’s doubtful Milan are capable of mounting a comeback.

Prediction: Milan 0-2 Inter

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Ronaldo: Looking Back at 6 of The Brazilian’s Most Iconic Moments on His Birthday

That lightning acceleration. That Brazilian flair. That dodgy haircut. 

We all have our own memories of Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, or simply ‘Ronaldo’. The big man burst onto the scene whilst playing for PSV Eindhoven, and terrorised defences with his breathtaking speed, quick feet and ability to round any goalkeeper on the planet. 

Brazil's forward Ronaldo, wrapped in the

Ronaldo is considered one of the greatest footballers to have ever walked this earth, and he truly was a joy to watch. The two-time Ballon d’Or winner played with such a grace and speed that he made the game look so easy – a sign of an elite player. 

As football fans, we were privileged to watch the genius at work for a number of years, but his plaguing knee injuries undoubtedly robbed us all of many more historic goals and tricks. 

The former Brazil international is a footballing legend, and it’s only fair that we look back at the great man’s most iconic moments on his 43rd birthday. 


Hat-Trick vs Bayer Leverkusen in 1994 

This is the night where it all began for Ronaldo. He was making a name for himself in Holland with PSV, but the teenager burst onto the European stage in an exhilarating encounter against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Cup. 

Ronaldo, unknown to most at the time, single-handedly destroyed the Leverkusen defence in one of the most impressive individual displays of all time. Although the crumbling Eindhoven backline continued to ship goals, this irrepressible youngster stunned the world with his frightening pace, rocket-powered shots and deft touch in front of goal. 


Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick on the night, his second goal a wonder-strike from 25 yards, and although PSV fell to a 5-4 defeat in Germany, the Brazilian wonderkid had given the world a glimpse of what was to come over the next decade. 


Barcelona Goal vs SD Compostela 

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Still incredibly young and raw, Ronaldo was taking the world by storm. It’s a crying shame that the Brazilian only spent one season at Camp Nou, but he certainly made the most of his time with the Catalan club.

The ?Barca striker scored an incredible 47 goals in 49 appearances for La Blaugrana and the majority of them were pieces of art, but his goal against SD Compostela ranks highest of all. 

Picking up the ball in his own half, Ronaldo danced away from a challenge, released himself from the grip of the most cynical shirt-pull of all time, and set off on a storming charge towards a visibly quaking backline. 

O Fenomeno weaved through several tackles before rifling home, leaving Barca manager Bobby Robson gobsmacked on the touchline. A goal so good, no one in the stadium could truly believe it had happened.


UEFA Cup Final Goal vs Lazio 

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Cup final goals are always special, but a goal to seal a win against your league rivals in European competition always tastes a little bit sweeter. ?Inter striker Ronaldo wrapped up a 3-0 victory against fellow Serie A side Lazio, and he delivered his trademark finish which summed up the man’s brilliance.

FOOT-UEFA-INTER MILAN-LAZIO ROME

Breaking the offside trap with expert timing, Ronaldo tore away from the flagging defenders, sucked the goalkeeper in before rounding him with ease, and nonchalantly rolled the ball home. 

It was a move he produced so regularly, but no keeper in the game could live with his devastating drop of the shoulder when through on goal. 


Real Madrid Debut vs Alaves 

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Debuts are not an easy occasion for some players. So much expectation to deliver, and the world’s eyes are boring into you.

You know what helps? Scoring 61 seconds into your first match. And that’s exactly what O Fenomeno did. 

Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo waves

Coming on as a substitute, Ronaldo immediately got his name on the ?Real Madrid scoresheet, bringing down a difficult cross from the left and lashing a volley past the helpless goalkeeper. 

I imagine that calmed the nerves of just about everyone at the Santiago Bernabeu, although I doubt Ronaldo was too concerned to begin with. The new Galactico went on to add a second goal later in the match, and became an instant fans’ favourite in the Spanish capital.


 World Cup Final Brace  

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This was the pinnacle of the great man’s career. Ronaldo had suffered heartbreak four years prior when Brazil lost the World Cup final to France, and the young talisman had suffered a serious convulsion hours before kickoff. 

The tournament favourites entered the competition with great expectations and the weight of a nation on their shoulders, but the Samba boys duly delivered, banishing the memories of France ’98. 


Ronaldo was the star of the World Cup, and O Fenomeno ended the tournament as top scorer with eight goals; bagging a brace in the final. 

And of course, we all remember that suspect trim he rocked against Germany, which unfortunately never really caught on.


Real Madrid Hat-Trick vs Manchester United 

This is still one of the greatest moments in Champions League history, and Ronaldo’s Real Madrid treble is considered one of the best hat-tricks that football has ever witnessed. 

The Spanish giants rode into Manchester brimming with confidence, and O Fenomeno delivered one of the outstanding performances of his career against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. 

?His first goal was a brilliant first-time finish, catching goalkeeper Fabien Barthez by surprise, lashing the ball fiercely in at the near post. 

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Ronaldo’s second goal was a tap-in, finishing off some neat buildup play, but the pièce de résistance however, was his hat-trick goal. 

Picking up possession midway inside the ?Man Utd half, the Madrid number 11 took a few strides forward, shifted the ball onto his right foot, and unleashed a vicious effort which somehow curled, dipped and arrowed past Barthez. 

Ronaldo was applauded off the pitch by the entire Old Trafford crowd, which tells us all we need to know about one of football’s greatest servants. 

Parabéns O Fenomeno!


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