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Cristiano Ronaldo-’Award winning record breaker’
Some of England’s top players and coaches were asked to comment on Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut for Manchester United at the age of just 18 in England’s FourFourTwo magazine:
David Beckham - "I had never even heard of him. To be honest, Ronaldo is a totally new name to me. But I saw his debut on TV and he looks a young lad with outstanding talent.
He may have been on the pitch for only half an hour but the fans and the United players already know he is something special. He came on and changed the game. I thought he was tremendous.
I’m just glad the No 7 shirt has been filled — and by someone so outstanding."
Sir Alex Ferguson - "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."
Pele - "There is no-one else in the world with his potential right now. He already has everything, moves, lightning fast foot skills and the confidence to go out on the field and try them against some of the best players in the world... and he is only 18 years old!"
To what does Cristiano attribute his high level of play at such a young age? "In Portugal, all we played growing up was Futsal. Although the smaller court helped my footwork skills, the nature of the game made me feel so free when I played. If it wasn’t for Futsal, I would definitely not be the player I am today."
Christiano won English Premiership Young Player of the Year and also Player of the Year in the same season, something that hasn’t been achieved for 30 years. In December ’07, he was voted runner up in the FIFA World Player of the Year to Kaka, who also grew up playing Futsal.
In an interview with FIFA.com earlier this year, Mia Hamm - a legendary voice of experience - pointed out that the 20-year-old Brazilian, Marta - who stands at just 1.60m, still has many years and major tournaments ahead of her.
"Marta is one of the best players I have ever played with or against," said the US icon. "She still has a long way to go, we’re still talking about a baby, she’s just a kid still. A long way to go or not, I would take her on my team any day. She can dribble, go right at defenders and she has the heart of a true competitor."
Her friend and international team-mate Cristiane says: "I am a huge fan of Marta’s game. She can do unbelievable things with the ball at her feet. I admire her style."
Asked why she chose football, Marta admits: "It was not a conscious decision. I just wanted to play football naturally." Marta also enjoyed Futsal, playing as early as 7 years old and she is no doubt as to where her exceptional technique was developed: "That comes from Futsal, it’s so much fun and impossible to play and not improve."
Marta went on to win the FIFA women’s world cup later in that year with Brazil, was named Player of the Tournament and FIFA World Player of the Year.