Man Utd terminate Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract as the Premier League club issue a statement confirming the news on Tuesday evening.
The 37-year-old forward conducted an explosive interview on the eve of the World Cup, criticizing manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s owners.
Last week, United said it had “initiated appropriate steps” in response to Ronaldo’s comments.
Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.
The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 22, 2022
Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.
The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future.
Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the team’s progress under Erik ten Hag and working together to deliver success on the pitch.
“Following conversations with Manchester United we have mutually agreed to end our contract early. I love Manchester United and i love the fans, that will never ever change.
“However, it feels like the right time for me to seek a new challenge. I wish the team every success for the remainder of the season and for the future.”
Every word from Cristiano Ronaldo’s interview
On why he joined Manchester United again and rumours he almost went to rivals Manchester City:
“Well, honestly, it was close… But as you know, as my history is Manchester United. Your heart, you’re feeling the way these two that you did before, make the difference. And of course, as well, Sir Alex Ferguson.
“So I was surprised. And the same way, but it was conscious decision. Because the heart speaks, speaking loud in that moment.”
On Sir Alex Ferguson’s part in him returning to United:
“I think it was the key. It was the difference in that moment. I wouldn’t say that Manchester City wasn’t close. But I think, I did [make] a conscious decision. Sir Alex Ferguson was the key.
On his first match back in which he scored twice vs Newcastle:
“Well, that feeling was amazing. But not only the day of the game, I felt in the week before that everything changed. The world spoke about me, Cristiano, ‘back home back where I belong’. So it was a special moment to be back to Manchester United to perform for our fans, and of course to score two goals was the best welcome that I received in Old Trafford. It was a memorable day and unbelievable day. Yes, ‘Viva Ronaldo’ [the chant], me back… as I told you before, the fans for me, they are everything.”
How he found the club after being away for many years:
“Piers, to be honest, when I signed for Manchester United, I thought everything would have changed because it’s 13 years,” he said. “I was in Real Madrid nine years and three in Juventus. And when I arrived, I thought everything will be different, you know, the technology, the infrastructures and everything. But I was surprised, in a bad way, let’s say in that way because I saw everything was the same.
“And Manchester it wasn’t, in that moment that as you mentioned that Ole was sacked, Michael Carrick he assumed the job for two games. Villareal, and Chelsea away. And everything was so fast, but surprised me a lot, [the] instability in the club. No, they stopped on a clock, in my opinion, which is something that surprised me.
“I was surprised. I thought when I signed that they sign in that year Sancho, and Varane, plus me, that things will be in the way that Manchester should be. Sir Alex Ferguson left a big gap in the club, not only Sir Alex Ferguson, one person that I thought made the difference; David Gill, the president, is a very, very good man. And the structure around Sir Alex Ferguson was very important too. So I knew that Manchester United wasn’t the same.
“At United, the progress was zero, in my opinion. To compare with Real Madrid and even Juventus, that they follow the rest of the world, so the technology, especially in terms of training, nutrition and conditioning, eat properly and to recover better than before – surprised me. Manchester right now to compare with that club, I think it’s behind in my opinion, which is something that surprised me. A club with this dimension should be the top of the tree in my opinion and they are not, unfortunately. They are not in that level. But I hope the next years they can reach to be in a top level.”
“I don’t know what’s going on but since Sir Alex Ferguson left I saw no evolution in the club, the progress was zero.”
On whether he called Ralf Rangnick ‘boss’ despite never having heard of him before:
“Of course, we have to call him boss because he assumed the job regardless – all the coaches that I had in my career, I call them boss because if they assume the job we have to call them that. But in the end, deep inside me, I never saw him as the boss because I saw some points that I never agreed with.”
Opening up about Rangnick’s tactics:
“To be honest, Piers, it’s something that I don’t understand. It’s the new coaches that are coming around, they think they find the last Coca Cola in the desert… I don’t understand the football that invents many, many years.
“But I respect any coach, every different approach, different opinions, different mentality, but some points I don’t agree with. I’ve always been besides the best coaches in the world: Zidane and Ancelotti, Mourinho, Fernando Santos, Allegri… So I have some experience because I learned from them.
“And when you see some coaches that are coming, that they want the revolution [in] football, I don’t agree, I have my opinion. They agree or they don’t – they disagree, but it’s part of the business because at the end of the day, I’m in a club to win, and with my experience, I want to help. Like always, and some coaches that don’t accept you and, you know, it’s part of the job.”
On whether Rangnick knew what he was doing:
“No, they don’t. They knew with the club, very well. But they don’t know the main dimension of the club inside, the history of the club. Which is, for me, surprised me even more. Which is when you sack Ole Solskjaer, you should bring a top manager, not a sports director.”
Giving his thoughts on former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Ole’s future in the sport:
“I love Solskjaer. I think he was a top person, because what I keep inside my heart, it’s the heart of the persons. And Ole for me, is a top person… It’s hard. It’s hard to assume [the role] after Sir Alex Ferguson, but I think he did a good job for sure.
“You need much more time. But I never doubt that you’re going to be a good coach in the future. But it was a good experience. I was, I was so pleased to work with him even for a short period.”
On younger players in football:
“All leagues in the world, the youngest now, they are not the same as my generation. But we cannot blame them because, it’s part of life, you know. The new generation and the new technologies that distract them for another thing so… But they are not the same. They listen but this is why we have two ears, as you listen from one side and they go away from another side.
“It doesn’t surprise me. But in the same way it’s a shame because if they have the best examples in front of your eyes, and if they don’t at least copy what you did, for me, it’s kind of weird, because I remember when I was 18, 19, 20, I always looked to see the best players in Van Nistelrooy, Ferdinand, Roy Keane, and Giggs – this is why I have the success that I have and longevity. Because I take care of my body, my mentality, my head, because I see these guys and I learn from them.”
On the best advice he had for younger players:
“I’m not the kind of guy who likes to give advice as I prefer to be an example.
“Because I’m an example. I’m there every morning and do the same stuff. I’m probably the first one to arrive and the last one to go out. I think the details speak for itself… This is why I say, I like to lead by example.”
The players he most admires:
“In Manchester United I can mention Dalot, he’s young, but very professional but I don’t doubt that he’s going to have longevity in football because he’s young, he’s smart, intelligent and he’s very professional. Probably Martinez, Casemiro is in his 30s, but I will say Dalot.”
Ronaldo also went on to talk about the emotions he felt after his son, Ángel, died at birth and his twin daughter, Bella, survived earlier this year:
“In the beginning. Gio (Georgina, Ronaldo’s partner) are arriving home and the kids start to ask ‘where’s the other baby? Where’s the other baby?’
“Of course Cristiano [his eldest son], I had a conversation with him in the day, because he’s 12 years old, he knows, understands everything, and I had a nice conversation with him. We cried together in his bedroom and explained and it’s kind of – he doesn’t understand, he does understand, but in same way he was a little bit confused.
“The other ones in the beginning, at the table, the kids start to say ‘Mom where is the other baby?’ And after one week I say, ‘Let’s be up front and let’s be honest with the kids, let’s say that, Ángel has gone to heaven.’
“It’s better to say in that way and we start to use that in that way. And the kids always understand, when we had shouts in at the table and they say ‘daddy, I did this for Ángel’ and they point out for the, for the sky… I like it the most because, you know it’s part of their lives and I am not going to lie to my kids. To tell the truth was a difficult process but in the same way, I become more and more of a father, more friendly with them; they become more close to their daddy especially me with Georgina as well.”
On how the pressure of losing a baby affected his relationship:
“In my case it was more, [it] was better in that way. I became more friendly with Gio. I was of course a friend, but I seem more lovely for her and for my kids and I started to see life with a different perspective… It was the most difficult moments, the last six months, since my dad died, it was this moment that I passed through the last six months.”
Speaking about whether he feels his son’s spirit is still with him, he explained that he keeps Ángel’s ashes and his father’s ashes at home and he talks to them all the time.
“For sure, for sure. His ashes are with me, like my daddy, they are here in the house… Yes it is something that I want to hold for the rest of my life and not throw to the ocean or to the sea. I keep with me. They are next to my dad… I have a small church … Yes, chapel. And I keep my daddy and my son [there].
“I talk with them every time and they are by my side. You know they helped me to be a better man, to be a better person, to be a better father. I am really proud of the message they send me, especially my son.”
On being supported in his grief by the fans and the British people, he said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring and even had a letter of condolence from the Royal Family.
“I never, ever expected that. Never. I have the opportunity now to say, to the English community, thank you a lot for that, [it] kind of helped with me…
“I received a letter from The Queen’s family as well … And, surprised me a lot… This is why I say, I respect a lot, the English community, English people, because they’ve been very kind with me. And in that difficult moment of my life… [the support] was spectacular. The way they treat me, me and my family in that difficult moment, I should say straight to the camera thank you, ‘thank you, to the all English community that helped me in that moment’.”
On whether he is planning any more children:
“I’m not thinking now about more kids, I think we are done but we never know. In the future only God knows. But right now we all want to have a break to enjoy these ones because they are little… we want to enjoy a little bit of these ones. Let’s see in the future.”
On returning to the pitch after his son’s death:
“But as I always have good support from my family. And Georgina told me, ‘go, go to play, go and enjoy doing what you like to do. It’s going to help for you to forget a little bit, the situation.’ It was difficult, but at the same point that thing helps for you to, you know, to not think too much about that even though training was good. But as you know, the football is going so fast and you know trainings, games, even the national team, the thing’s going so fast you don’t even have time to settle and say what’s going on, you know, because the things are going so fast. But it was good help, Georgina helped me a lot to give me that stability.
“We help each other. She (Georgina) struggled when she was young, so she’ll look at life with different eyes, even though she’s young, but she’s suffered. She was born in Argentina, she has issues with her family as well, she lived alone. She has an interesting life and histories as well… And she helped me a lot. She’s very mature for this age, we help each other sometimes when I’m a little bit down she pushes me up and I do it the other side. So we are a nice couple and we help each other so I’m really pleased that she’s on my side.”
On the possibility of getting married:
“I’m not thinking now about that but I can see in the future I think I deserve, she deserves, but it’s something that’s not coming now in my plans but in the future is yes, I want.”
Speaking about the criticism he’s faced at the club, he said:
“I’m used to living like that because, you know, I was 37, I know and I learned many things. When you are at the bottom of the wave and when you are at the top of the wave, you don’t realise and you don’t see things that you don’t see before… Which is, I appreciate to have bad moments, to see which people are on your side, who will criticise you more. Because they’re looking for that. They don’t like to see successful people.
“The people only try to bring negativity. And I felt the last four or five months that, not only for me, but even for my family as well, for Georgina, especially around the world, the press criticise me even more… sometimes I don’t understand.
“But I still believe that jealousy is part of that. They want to cover many things that helps to shine other things. But listen, Piers, I know I’m 21 years at the top of the game, so I know all the takes, so for me it’s not a problem. It’s hard when you are a little bit down to listen to this criticism.
“I care for the people who like me. I’m not wasting time, for the people who don’t like me. I think it’s a waste of time, these people are not interesting in my life.”
On Rooney’s criticism:
“I really don’t understand people like that. Or if they want to be in a cover of the paper of the news, or they want new jobs or whatever.”
On if he is driven by money or competition:
“Exactly, the record, the adrenaline. But Piers, let’s be honest, in the last few years, football has changed. I see football now as a business to be honest.
“Sometimes Georgina’s [his girlfriend] expression, that ‘I don’t understand that they treat you players like a piece of meat’. I say, ‘Yes, everything you say is true’. I see football, Piers, in the last years, as a business. I saw many, many things that I’m disappointed [with].
“The passion for the game is still intact. But in the same way, I saw other things as well, which surprised me, but in the same way. It’s part of the business, because if you see the world, how it is at the moment, it’s all business.”
On leaving Old Trafford early against Tottenham Hotspur and Rayo Vallecano:
“It’s difficult to tell you 100 per cent but let’s say I regret [it], but in the same way I felt provoked by the coach. It is not allowed for a coach to put me in [for] three minutes in a game. Sorry, I’m not that kind of player. I know what I can give to the team.”
On the Vallecano incident, Ronaldo added: “Me and eight players [left early], but they mentioned only my name… everyone did that. Last year, many players did the same.
“In that game, eight players do the same but they only speak about the black sheep which is me. I completely understand. Okay, it’s done, I apologise to the coach and for me, the chapter was closed.”
On being forced out of United and his relationship with Erik ten Hag:
“The feeling he always mentioned to me, that I didn’t need the pre-season, so I should wait for my opportunity, I really understand that. But I’m not going to give you points, you don’t do the same procedure to every player. I’m not going to mention players, but they don’t do it the same way.
“Second, I understand that [taking over] a new job, Manchester was so bad the last five years that it should make them clean the house – let’s say in that way. But the way they approach, the way the press make this so big, it’s because probably the communication wasn’t the best.
“But I really understand in the beginning because I didn’t do the pre-season, I don’t start to play. But going further than that, other things happen that people don’t know [about], and I’m not hiding that the empathy with the coach is not good. I’m honest.
“He don’t respect the way I should deserve [it]. But it is what it is. This is why probably, the game against Tottenham, I left.”
On not being brought on in the 6-3 defeat at Manchester City:
“Excuses, I see as excuses. I saw many things that I don’t want to criticise him [for]. He can have different opinions to me. They choose the players that they think are better for the team. I respect that, but excuses all the time, you know; the excuses have short legs and you cannot excuse all the time, which is things that don’t make sense.
“Okay, you don’t put me [on] against Manchester City because of respect of my career and you want to put me [on for] three minutes against Tottenham. It doesn’t make sense…
“I think he did it on purpose because, for example, in a national team and [at] the other clubs, if the coach wants to put me [on for] five minutes, if someone was injured or if they really needed me, I will help. But in that way I felt provoked not only because of that game, but before.”
On being banished from the squad against Chelsea:
“I think it was a strategy from the club for me to react that way. I was very, very, very, very disappointed with the communication of Manchester United. To be honest, I never had a problem with any club, with any coach.
“And they suspend me for three days, which I felt it was a lot – and the level of sport, clubs, I felt a lot. It was a shame.”
On how his eldest son was in disbelief at his suspension from the squad:
“I remember arriving home and Cristiano Jr saw me and said, ‘Daddy, do not go to the game?’ I say, ‘No, because the club punish me with three days [suspension]’ And he did like *laughs*, ‘How they’re going to punish you if you are the best player in the world and you’re not going to play?’ I said, ‘No I’m not going to play because I have not been behaving’. And he look at me like, ‘My Daddy, not be behave, what?’
“In one way, I was good because I was like, more relaxed, but in the same way, I feel very disappointed because, okay, I regret [it], I apologise, I’m not perfect, I made a mistake. But suspending me for three games, for that, I think it’s too much. And then they make fire for the press, which really disappointed me.
“Don’t tell me that the top players, the guys who want everything, the key players, will play three minutes. Come on, this is unacceptable after what they keep saying before, that they respect me, that they do this, they do that.
“For me it was not respect, this is why I take this decision I regret. I apologised to my teammates for the situation, I did a post on Instagram, saying I regretted leaving the stadium. My teammates know what I felt, and I apologised, but in the same way, I don’t regret to take the decision to not come on.
“The coach didn’t have respect for me. So this is why the relationship, it’s in that way. He keep saying in the press that he come to me, he like me blah, blah, blah, but that is only for the press, 100 per cent. If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never going to have respect for you.”
On if he will still be a United player come January 1:
“It’s difficult to tell right now, because my mood is, right now, [focused on] the World Cup. It’s probably my last World Cup, of course, my fifth World Cup.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen after the World Cup, but as I told you before, and I will say again, the fans will always be in my heart. And I hope they will be by my side, even if I [come] back, or if I’m not back, or if I stay or whatever.
“Nobody’s perfect. Episodes in the life we all have is part of being human beings, is part of me being a human being and [being a] father as well. I always will commit mistakes.
“But I don’t know, it’s hard to tell right now what’s going to happen after the World Cup because my focus is for the World Cup, for the Portugal national team.”
He continued: “When I arrived at Manchester United, I always wanted to be available to help the team and to do the good things, to put [them] in the right spots, to compete with the best teams. But it’s hard when they cut your legs and they don’t like you to shine and they don’t listen to your advice.
“I think I have words to advise to the club because the trophies are one individual and collective. I think I can help a lot, but when the infrastructure is not good…”
On the offer from Saudi Arabia:
“It’s true, yes, it’s true. But what the press keep saying, the garbage, is that nobody wants me, which is completely wrong.
“And I was happy here to be honest, I was motivated to do a great season here [at United]. But they continue to repeat that nobody wants Cristiano. How they don’t want a player who scored 32 goals last year, [including] with the national team?”
On turning down the big-money offer from Saudi Arabia:
“It’s hard, it’s hard. But in the same way, I thought that I was very happy here; that I am still capable of scoring goals.
“I still believe that I can score many, many goals and help the team because I still believe that I’m still good and capable to help national team – even Manchester United. But if you don’t feel around you that the energy’s on your side, it’s difficult.
“Of course, the criticism is going to exist all the time. ‘Ah he’s 37, he’s not the same’. But I want to see if some guy of my age can maintain the level that I show.
“Yes, in this moment, I feel very, very good…. I believe that I’m going to do an amazing World Cup, and I’m prepared, physically and mentally.”
On the longevity of his career and if he can still play at the top level:
“For me it’s a stupid question. What do people say? They are not the same. Nobody is the same. Day by day we’re getting old. Every one of us, you understand, it is normal.
“You have to adapt, and I think nobody in this game has this brain that adapts with his age. I’m not. I don’t want to be cocky to say that I’m the same as when I was 20. Of course, no.
“But I adapt and be smart to know my strength, what I’m good to do. And I’m still playing at the high level and I score goals, and I will continue to score goals, if my mind is clear and happy.
“And if the people surrounding me, they’re helping me to be a successful player, especially the coach, the president, the directors. But when you feel that the energy doesn’t go around you it’s difficult for you to be yourself, which is what’s happened with me.
“But what they say the last three months is completely garbage and wrong. They say that they offer me this and that, and many presidents and directors speak about, they reject me. It’s a complete lie, they lie, because this is not what’s happened. I have many clubs, not many, a few clubs that they want me to sign and I didn’t go because I feel comfortable here. This is the truth.”
On the criticism he will face for doing the interview:
“They criticise me when I don’t speak, so of course they’re going to criticise me when I do speak – even more. But it’s something that I can deal with, that. I know I’m going to be disappointing for a few people. Maybe I’m going to make up a few people.
“But it is what it is. The life is completely difficult, we have obstacles in our lives, and I will keep running to fight against the people who don’t believe me, and the life is a challenge, and I want people to know they’re wrong.
“It’s hard, it’s hard for me to say that I will not be back to Manchester United. But regardless, as you say, it’s… let’s see what’s going to happen.
“But as I told you before, the fans, for me, always will be on my side, will be always in my heart. I see during the days when I go to the streets, the love, the passion, that people have for me, the respect. I hope that they never forget the things that I will continue to do. Not only in the past, but in the present, too.
“Manchester will be always on my side, the fans will be always on my side; it doesn’t matter what’s going to happen. And I appreciate the love that they send for me all the time, even when I’m done playing.
“Even when they criticise me they always will be in my heart. So thank you for all the support. I hope to see you soon. And they always will be in my heart.”
On what Sir Alex Ferguson would make of recent events:
“I haven’t spoken to him for like one month, but he’s always on my side. He always understand me. He knows that, he knows better than anybody that the club is not on the path they deserve to be. He knows. Everyone knows.
“The people who don’t see that is because they don’t want to see; they are blamed. The fans, they are always the answer, and the passion for the game. Manchester [United] belongs to the fans, but they should know the truth. The infrastructure [is] not good. They should change.”
On the World Cup and his goals:
“I am very optimistic. We [Portugal] have a fantastic coach and we have a good generation of football players. I’m looking forward that we’re going to it, an amazing World Cup.
“[It’s] going be tough. Extremely difficult. But everything is possible. But of course we’re going to compete.”
On if he would retire if Portugal win it:
“Yes. Retired. 100 per cent.” He added he thought England “have a chance”, like Portugal, of winning the tournament.
On the World Cup being staged in Qatar and the controversy:
“All the national teams, all the people, [they need to be] welcomed in Qatar, and I see a good tournament, to be honest. I think Qatar; they are prepared. They are prepared for that, and it will be weird to play in the beginning of the season. Yes. But in the same way, a challenge. I think it’s, to be honest, good. I feel good. I feel with good energy.”
On Lionel Messi:
“He is an amazing player. Magic. Top. As a person, we share the stage 16 years. Imagine 16 years. So, I have great relationship with him. I’m not a friend of him, in terms of what I mean as a friend who was with you in your house or speaking on the phone.
“No, but it’s like a teammate. He’s a guy that I really respect the way he always speaks about me. Even his wife or my wife, my girlfriend, they always have respect and they’re from Argentina.
“My girlfriend is from Argentina. So good. What I am going to say about Messi? A great guy who does great things for football.”
On if he would like Arsenal to win the Premier League:
“Manchester [United] first, and if not, Arsenal is some team that I like to see play. I like the team. I like the coach. I think they have a good team. And if Manchester United don’t win the Premier League, I will be happy if Arsenal do.”
On his retirement plans:
“I want to play two years more, three years more. So two or three years maximum. I want to finish at 40. I think 40 will be a good age… but I don’t know, I don’t know the future.
“Sometimes you plan one thing for your life and as I said many times, the life is dynamic and you never know what’s going to happen.”
On his friendship with controversial internet star Jordan Peterson:
“I’m a huge fan of his. I read his book, 12 Rules, and I felt that he’s a really interesting guy and I love to meet smart people. [He is a] fantastic man. And I learned a lot. He gave me some advice.
“We had a nice, strategic conversation. Not only for the moment of my life, not only for football, because my life is not all football; I am a businessman. I have many important things in my life. And when you are surrounded with these people with you, people that make your life more interesting, they reach something in your daily life.
“I appreciate [that] because it’s that kind of people that think outside the box, which I appreciate. We had a nice conversation, strategic conversation.”
On if he could write his own ‘Cristiano Ronaldo 12 Rules to Life’ book:
“Why not? For the future, probably. I want to educate not only my family but my fans. As you know, I have a lot, millions of fans. Probably for the future I want to do some book. But not the type of book, but to help people; how to be, how to maintain longevity.
“How to win, which is the most important. I have experience to inspire people for that. I think I am a role model and I can help many, many people in that way, if they want my help.”