MANCHESTER UNITED assistant manager Carlos Queiroz has launched an extraordinary attack on the Spanish nation and Real Madrid over what he believes are attempts to “naturalise” Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese coach and former Real boss draws a bizarre comparison between the player and Christopher Columbus.
Madrid made no secret of their desire to recruit Ronaldo, prompting United to consider reporting them to FIFA. But Queiroz feels Madrid’s courting of his Portuguese compatriot is about more than their wish to snap up the gifted winger, claiming it is part of the long history and rivalry between Portugal and Spain.
“Cristiano Ronaldo will never be Spanish! As they will never take Olivenca again,” he told Portuguese newspaper Jornal do Noticias, referring to a small town on the disputed border between the two countries.
Queiroz also delved further into the historic rivalry, alluding to Columbus — who both countries claim as theirs — and the 60-year Philippine Dynasty when Portugal was ruled by three Spanish kings until the bloodless revolution of 1640.
“They already did the same with Christopher Columbus, and it now seems they want to naturalise Cristiano Ronaldo,” added Queiroz.
“Have they already forgotten what we did to them in the past? We will never lose our patience.”
With Portugal preparing for Euro 2008, Queiroz knows the furore surrounding Ronaldo’s future could not have come at a worse time.
“It’s being done in a manner to distract the Portugal team, at the height of their preparations for Euro 2008,” he said. “But I am convinced despite pressure from the Spanish sporting press he will not accept to change his nationality. However, it is an attack with a well-defined strategy and Portugal should be worried about that.”
Meanwhile Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has been ordered to quit talking about Cristiano Ronaldo — by his own directors.
United have warned Real they will report them to FIFA if they continue to publicly pursue Ronaldo. Calderon responded by insisting Real have done nothing wrong.
But angry board members at the Bernabeu have now told Calderon to stop embarrassing Real.
Reports in Spain claim Calderon was hauled before senior directors after making a series of comments about the club’s desire to sign the star. The directors warned the president his behaviour was tainting the club’s reputation.
Calderon has dismissed United’s claims they are unsettling Ronaldo.
He said: “Our relationship with United is magnificent...we know Manchester doesn’t want to sell and we have nothing to say. It’s a problem between the player and his team.”
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