MANCHESTER UNITED spent three hours signing Cristiano Ronaldo in his ex-club Sporting Lisbon's car park in 2003, Nicky Butt claims.
Butt revealed that United were so mesmerised with Ronaldo's performance against them during their 3–1 loss to Lisbon in a pre-season friendly back then, that ex-boss Sir Alex Ferguson wasn't leaving without him.
After their lacklustre performance, Butt, who quit as United's head of development earlier this year, and his teammates just wanted to get home.
But unbeknownst to the group, Fergie and former United chief executive David Gill were concocting a plan to bring the young Portuguese star along with them.
Although they ended up taking a lengthy three hours to convince Ronaldo to make the switch to Old Trafford.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes, Butt said: "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'.
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"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."
Whatever Fergie and Gill said to Ronaldo, who was only 18 at the time, seemed to have worked as Untied went on to sign him for £12.25million from Lisbon.
But according to Italian agent Alessandro Moggi, Fergie swooped for Ronaldo in the nick of time, as his agent Jorge Mendes was simultaneously trying to facilitate a move for him to go to Italy.
Moggi claims both Parma and Lazio turned down the opportunity to sign Ronaldo, but his former club Juventus were interested and had even flown to Portugal to try and beat United to the punch.
Moggi said: "Once Juventus declared their interest in Ronaldo, they rushed to Lisbon to close a deal."
However the ink had already dried on Ronaldo's United switch and he went on to have five glowing years at the club, scoring 84 goals and providing 34 assists in 196 games, along with winning a Premier League title.
The 36-year-old will be hoping to add more trophies to his Red Devils collection this time around after he re-joined them in a stunning deadline day transfer worth £19.7million deal for two years.
And the five-time Ballon d'Or has already made his intentions clear to his new teammates.
Upon his arrival in Manchester, Ronaldo told his United pals that he expects to lift the Prem title this year.
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