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Friday 16 August 2013

On this day in 2003: Ronaldo dazzles on debut

Looking back at Premier League history, we recall Man Utd teenager Ronaldo's memorable debut

  • Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut for Man Utd just four days after signing for the club

  • The 18-year-old terrorised the Bolton defence and helped Man Utd win 4-0

  • Ronaldo was awarded the number seven shirt worn by the departing David Beckham

  • He enjoyed six years at the club, winning three league titles and scoring 84 league goals

Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.

On this day 16 August 2003 - Manchester United 4 Bolton Wanderers 0

Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the impact of 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese winger made a memorable debut as Manchester United ran out 4-0 winners against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford.

“It looks like the fans have a new hero"
Sir Alex Ferguson

In the opening match of the 2003/04 Barclays Premier League season, the Red Devils held a narrow 1-0 lead over Bolton but, with 29 minutes remaining, Ronaldo came off the bench and made an instant impact.

He wowed the Old Trafford faithful with his blistering pace and trickery as he played a part in late goals from Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy as the defending league champions secured a 4-0 success.

After the match, manager Ferguson said: “It looks like the fans have a new hero.

“It was a marvellous debut, almost unbelievable. I felt his penetration could make a difference for us. We have to be careful with the boy. You must remember he is only 18. We are going to have to gauge when we use him.”

Ronaldo had only joined four days earlier, having inspired his previous club Sporting Lisbon to a 3-1 win over Man Utd in a pre-season friendly. Despite his age, the fleet-footed forward made 29 appearances in his first campaign in England, scoring four times.

Regular football followed for Ronaldo over the next two seasons but it was the 2006/07 campaign when he made his impact, scoring 17 times in 34 league appearances as Man Utd won the Barclays Premier League title for the first time since 2002/03.

He proved to be instrumental as Ferguson’s side won three consecutive league titles. He also scored in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final as Man Utd won Europe’s elite competition with a penalty shoot-out over Chelsea. In the same season he scored 31 league goals in 34 matches. He is one of five players to score more than 30 goals in a season in Premier League history.

He left Old Trafford for Real Madrid in 2009 after six seasons in England. Overall, Ronaldo scored 84 goals in 196 Barclays Premier League appearances.

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Key Points

  • Premierleague.com looks back through the annals of history of the competition
  • A memorable event or match from each day of the year will be selected
  • We remember when Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a superb 29-minute cameo on his Manchester United debut against Bolton Wanderers