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Remembering Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid Debut In Tallaght Stadium

Remembering Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid Debut In Tallaght Stadium
Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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8 years ago today, on July 20th, 2009, Real Madrid played a pre-season friendly at Tallaght Stadium against a Shamrock Rovers side wearing purple and leaving star man Gary Twigg on the bench.

The dream glamour friendly, Los Blancos set up camp in Carton House, took the obligatory photos playing hurling during the week, and prepared for warm-up friendly as if it were any other. But this one was different, this one was special.

The eyes of the world were on Tallaght that night as Cristiano Ronaldo appeared on a football pitch in the pristine white of Real Madrid for the very first time, wearing #9, still with questions as to how things would go for him following his move to the Spanish giants. This was when £80m was something to be baulked at, rather than the going rate.

Back then, despite the Ballon d'Or he already had sitting on his mantle place, it would have been difficult to imagine him going on to enjoy the success he has, where he is today compared to the best to ever play for the club.

cristiano ronaldo real madrid debut

But how did he fare on that unusually sunny evening in Dublin?

He did OK.


Watching the highlights back now, it's a reminder as to how he has evolved, from the player he was then compared to the one he became. Almost every possession involved a flashy flick of the leg or a stepover, as if he was being paid to hit a certain quota. He came deep looking for the ball so he could drive directly at the heart of a defence, or he would hug the touchline for a chance to take someone on 1-v-1.


These traits are all rarely seen while watching him now, where often the only time you'll see him is when he arrives to bury a chance at a pivotal moment. He has streamlined his involvement in matches and has become more influential than ever.

If he was to return for a friendly in Tallaght Stadium today he would likely get a warmer reputation, as while many turned out to a see the biggest rising star in world football that day, far more showed up to rip the piss out of him. This was a guy many of those supposed Shamrock Rovers fans had spent the summer mocking their United supporting mates for losing, after all.

The Telegraph's match report did a decent job of capturing the mood of the welcoming committee.


For you could not come across a more understated venue for the 24 year-old to fulfil his life dream of playing for the club than the Tallaght Stadium. Hunkered down in the shadow of the Dublin mountains, Tallaght is a charming ground, but not the majestic theatre in which Ronaldo must have dreamt of performing his first sporting soliloquy for Real.

He will have envisaged row upon row of fawning fans, not the 11,000 unimpressed spectators who gleefully heckled when his name was announced before kick-off and then cackled, “Who are you? Who are you?” when he fluffed two stock-in-trade free-kicks.

But he still showed flashes.


For as much as those stepovers were for show, they occasionally put a Rovers defender on wobbly legs, although it must be said Ian Bermingham did a fine job of not getting rinsed, and kept the man of the hour relatively quiet.

In truth, it was short of an hour, as Manuel Pellegrini accepted the role of party pooper by making wholesale changes at half time, including Ronaldo. Karim Benzema would score the only goal of the game, in what was also his Real Madrid debut, but nobody really cared.

This was about Cristiano Ronaldo fulfilling his dream, and taking a significant step towards greatness. The fact that he did both of those things with a chorus of boos from the unimpressed Tallaght faithful ringing in his ears at every touch is pretty great.


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