Cristiano Ronaldo starred in forgotten Man Utd game vs Champions League icons that raised over £1m for charity


The match took place over 17 years ago.

Cristiano Ronaldo once helped to raise over £1 million when he played for Manchester United in an exhibition against a UEFA XI in 2007.

The match took place at Old Trafford in March 2007, and saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s side take on a UEFA ‘Europe XI’ managed by the former Juventus, Inter Milan and Italy boss Marcello Lippi.

It was created as a way of marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome – the treaty which brought about the creation European Communities and laid foundations for the subsequent creation of the European Union.

United, meanwhile, were invited to play in the game as they were celebrating 50 years since their first participation in UEFA European competitions.

Initially, the Europe XI was to feature a plethora of football’s elite stars, with the likes of Ronaldinho, Paolo Maldini, Iker Casillas, Ronaldo and Carles Puyol all confirming their participation. David Beckham was also invited to play against his former club.

Zinedine Zidane was even approached to play – although the Frenchman declined, allegedly because he did not want to play on the same team as fellow invitee Marco Materazzi, the Italy centre-back whom he had headbutted in the 2006 World Cup final.

However, on the day of the match, a number of players were forced to withdraw, including all of the aforementioned stars.

The Europe XI was still packed with star names, including Andrea Pirlo, Gianluca Zambrotta and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Henrik Larsson played up front – one day after his loan spell with United had ended. Liverpool duo Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard were also involved.

Ferguson’s side, meanwhile, had injury issues of their own, but were still able to field a strong outfit, with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs all starting.

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There was even a cameo appearance from Andy Cole, who made a one-off return to United as a ‘guest’ player.

United went 2-0 up inside 10 minutes on the night at Old Trafford, with Rooney and Wes Brown getting on the scoresheet.

Chelsea winger Florent Malouda then halved the deficit, before a stunning Ronaldo free-kick and a second goal from Rooney made it 4-1 to United at half time.

A brace from Bolton forward El Hadji Diouf – who was called up on the day of the game – meant the scoreline ended 4-3, with Ferguson praising the spectacle after the match.

You can watch the highlights of the game below.

The match was the first fundraising event for the newly-created Manchester United Foundation, and it raised over £1.25 million.

Meanwhile, although Beckham was ruled out of the match through injury, he still attended Old Trafford to publicly thank the crowd for their support during his time at United.

He told the 74,000 spectators inside Old Trafford: “The time I spent at this club was the best time in my whole football career.

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“I’ve waited four years to actually come back and to actually say thank you to the fans and the people of the club. I think I wouldn’t have got through many things without the people in this stadium.

“Everyone knows here that you’ve got the best manager in the world at this club.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty/AFP

Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson, UEFA, Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Steven Gerrard

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