£200k Ferrari write-off and dating soap star – how Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines off the pitch when he was in Manchester


Cristiano Ronaldo spent six glorious trophy-laden years in Manchester, wowing the crowds with his trickery and free-kicks.

But he also made headlines off the pitch.

From the moment he signed from Sporting Lisbon as a wiry, floppy-haired, slightly spotty teenage prospect, he wasn’t just making headlines on the sports pages.

READ MORE: Manchester United fans are saying the same thing after Man City’s Cristiano Ronaldo U-turn

He was viewed as a downgrade on the recently departed David Beckham but he soon changed that.

He managed to keep it quiet for quite a while but the gossip pages finally cottoned on to the fact that he was dating actress Gemma Atkinson.

“It was really, really glamorous,” the actress said recently, and entirely sarcastically.

“We just went to my house and drank cups of tea and watched Only Fools and Horses. Genuinely.”


Emmerdale actress Gemma dated Ronaldo back in 2007.

She has previously refused big money deals to tell all about their brief fling, but said back in 2010: “With Cristiano it was mad, because everywhere he went he was followed by photographers.

“When we did split up I got offered so much money to speak about him and I didn’t want that.”

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In 2009 he smashed his new Ferrari in the Manchester Airport tunnel – he walked out of the wreckage unharmed but it was a costly prang.

He wrote off the £200,000 motor and also received a bill for £20,000 from the airport for the damage he had caused to the tunnel.

The Portuguese hurtled for 230 metres through the bending tunnel under the runway, bouncing off the walls in his new 205mph Ferrari.

Ronaldo escaped without a scratch

His car, which he was driving for the first time, eventually came to a rest when one of the wheels sheared off.

At the time of the smash, on the A538 Wilmslow Road, which runs underneath Manchester Airport, the striker had only had the 205mph Portuguese-registered, left-hand-drive supercar for a couple of days. Police investigated but there was no charge.

United’s goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar was travelling behind in his Bentley.

Ronaldo wrote off his new Ferrari

When he first arrived at United, Ronaldo lived in a £1m house in a quiet suburb of Woodford near Stockport.

But that tranquillity was shattered in 2006 after Ronaldo, then playing for Portugal, appeared to get his fellow United star Wayne Rooney sent off, dumping ten-man England out of the World Cup.

The infamous Ronaldo wink, captured by the TV cameras, added to the anger of the fans back home.

cristiano ronaldo
Ronaldo

Although Rooney would forgive his United team-mate, the headlines of ‘winker’ back home suggested plenty didn’t.

England fans pinned flags to the fence of Ronnie’s Woodford pad and in United, who owned it, were forced to sell it.

For a time he was the most hated man in Britain, although of course United fans still loved him.

The former home of Cristiano Ronaldo
The former home of Cristiano Ronaldo

Now with Ronnie returning to Manchester, more headlines could well be written.

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