Search icon


21st Jul 2019

Pepe recalls how he was moved by Man Utd fans’ Cristiano Ronaldo welcome


Pepe was speaking to JOE at FC Porto’s kit launch event with New Balance

Former Real Madrid defender Pepe has recalled how he was moved by Manchester United supporters on the night they welcomed Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.

Pepe, now 36, is in his second spell with FC Porto having returned there in January from Besiktas. Speaking at an event organised by New Balance to mark the launch of the Portuguese club’s new kits, he was asked about his memories of playing against English opposition in European competition.

Though he spoke highly of the atmosphere at Anfield when he played there for Real against Liverpool, he explained that his experience of Old Trafford made a greater impression.

Real, then managed by Jose Mourinho, travelled to Manchester in March 2013 for the second leg of a Champions League last 16 tie. It was the first time Ronaldo had played at Old Trafford since leaving United for the Spanish capital in a record-breaking £80m deal in 2009. The home support greeted him with a rousing reception.

“I have some [memories] at Manchester United and Liverpool, but I’d choose Manchester United,” Pepe told JOE.

“It was the way that the Manchester United fans welcomed back Cristiano, even though he left United and went to Real Madrid.

“The spirit of that really stayed with me. It really touched me the way they welcomed him back to Manchester United.”

Ronaldo had scored Real’s only goal in the 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Bernabeu. He also ended up scoring the decider in Manchester.

United had taken the lead early in the second half through Sergio Ramos’ own goal but a controversial sending off for Nani turned the tide. Luka Modric equalised with 25 minutes remaining before Ronaldo landed the knockout blow shortly after to send Real into the quarter-finals.