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Manchester United's players were left "annoyed" as they were stuck on the bus while Cristiano Ronaldo was signed.
The Portuguese forward is back at Old Trafford, 12 years after he first left the Premier League for Real Madrid and then Juventus.
His first stint with the Red Devils last six years, scoring 118 goals in 292 appearances while winning three English top-flight titles and a Champions League.
Ronaldo made himself known to fans in 2003, putting in an incredible performance during a pre-season friendly for Sporting Lisbon in a 3-1 win.
It saw Sir Alex Ferguson move immediately after the game to sign him permanently for £12.24m.
But Nicky Butt, a 1999 treble-winner and 'Class of '92' member, said that the boss left his players on the bus to secure the future five-time Ballon d'Or star's signature.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes, the 46-year-old said: "We were all making excuses after the game; we were tired, it was a rubbish game, and we ended up sat on the team coach for about three hours after the game.
"Everyone is getting annoyed because we just want to go but it turns out the manager and David Gill were in the stadium pretty much signing Cristiano Ronaldo there and then."
United had already been watching Ronaldo before their loss to Sporting, a game which left John O'Shea "needing an oxygen tank".
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But Ronaldo had already made an impression on the team, with Butt adding: "We played a game in pre-season against Sporting Lisbon, and we'd just travelled from Chicago to Portugal.
"We'd got off the plane, had a bite to eat, we were all completely knackered, and we'd got onto the pitch and this young kid was just electrifying.
"We were all just looking at him and thinking 'wow'.
"He came to our training ground, a young, tall but skinny young lad; a really nice lad, he had bags of pace, bags of skill and he was very determined.
"You'd kick him in training and he'd get up, get the ball and run at you again and again.
"Honestly, we didn't expect him to be anywhere near the level he's now at; we knew we had a super talent and we knew he was a top player."
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Sir Alex Ferguson
- Manchester United FC
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