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By ESPN Staff

Ronaldo to give 'heart and soul' to United

Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to give everything in the Manchester United cause this season.

Ronaldo has publicly abandoned his desire to play for Real Madrid - at least until next summer - and instead committed himself to Old Trafford.

Any Red Devils supporters still sceptical after a summer transfer wrangle, which at one stage seemed destined to end in Ronaldo moving to Madrid, need have no fear.

'Before rumours emerge saying that I will play against my will, I want to make this clear - whoever says or writes that is lying,' he told Portuguese newspaper Publico.

'I will play for Manchester with all my heart and soul. I will fight and honour that shirt with the same commitment and dedication as always.

'After we'd won the Champions League, I felt that in five years I had helped win everything there was to win.

'We'd won the Premier League twice and I'd won a host of individual awards, including the best goalscorer in the Premier League, Champions League and in Europe. So, I felt that maybe I needed a new challenge.

'I never hid the fact that I wanted to play in Spain, at Real Madrid in particular, and I thought this could be the right moment. Manchester United and Real are probably the two biggest clubs in the world and it would never be an easy decision to make.'

Ronaldo was adamant the chance to be the world's most expensive player and receive a wage increase at Madrid was not an issue.

'I knew that there would always someone who'd say that my main concern was making more money,' he said. 'Others would insist that my vanity couldn't resist being linked to the biggest transfer fee of all time at the age of 23.

'Of course I proud to see my work recognised, but none of this had any major effect on what I wanted. In fact, if it was just a question of money, I would never leave Manchester United.'

Ronaldo is confident he will not get a bad reception from United fans.

'It's possible but I hope it doesn't happen,' he said. 'I know I'm a good professional, I know that no-one's harder on me than myself and that's never going to change, under any circumstances.

'The high point of my career was winning the Champions League. No-one will ever erase that from my memory, in the same way that no-one will ever erase the fact that I did it in a Manchester United shirt.

'What I said publicly, which was maybe a little naive, I take total responsibility for.'

Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster believes it is a 'shame' that Ronaldo has decided to stay in England, but has urged his club to put the matter behind them and focus on the squad already in place.

The Spanish champions had been involved in a persistent and very public pursuit of Ronaldo all summer.

At one point United even reported Real to FIFA, such was their annoyance with officials at the Bernabeu, but the player's latest comments have surely ended the speculation until next May at least.

'You have to respect his decision,' admitted Schuster.

'He was free to do what he wanted and it's a shame that he isn't coming to us because he's a player who would really have improved this great group.

United had agreed with Ronaldo's desire to end speculation over the matter and were informed about the interview before last night's 0-0 draw with Juventus.

The 23-year-old is due to see a specialist in Amsterdam later today to have an updated assessment on the ankle he recently had operated.

If as expected Ronaldo is given the all clear, he will fly straight into Manchester.

Clearly, he was eager to end the speculation over his future before meeting his team-mates again - especially because a decision about where he would play this season was made last month after a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson, once Portugal had been dumped out of Euro 2008.

'He heard my arguments; I heard his - and in fact, it was settled that the best for both parties would be for me to stay,' said Ronaldo, with Ferguson adding his view once proceedings at Old Trafford had reached their goalless climax.

'We cleared the air in Portugal, and the boy spoke to a few of the players as well,' said the Scot.

'The thing is, he knows he is happy here and has always been happy here.

'The fans have to understand it has been a very difficult time for him. He has been offered all this money - when his dad has died a young man and he is looking after his mother, his sister and his brother.

'But once he knew my stance he settled down - and as far as we are all concerned, the matter is finished. The boy is a United player - that is what is important.'

Ronaldo's renewed commitment brings some welcome good news for United, who look like heading into the opening game of their Barclays Premier League title defence against Newcastle on August 17 missing 10 senior players for one reason or another.

The virus affecting both Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick is yet to be resolved - while, despite the injury worries and confirmation they are under no legal obligation to release him, United will let Anderson stay in China to honour his Olympic commitment to Brazil.

The shadow of Madrid will still linger over Ronaldo.

'I knew Real Madrid were interested in signing me and that they had allegedly made a very high offer to Manchester United,' he said.

'My desire was, for some time, that Manchester had accepted my transfer to Madrid.

'Saying otherwise would be to trick people and my own consciousness.'

'But hey, it doesn't matter. We've got a great group to get started on an important league campaign and fight for all the objectives we've set.

'It's a decision we have to accept.'


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