The forwards had clashed in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final between England and Portugal and the Red Devils boss acted quickly to ease tension
Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney shook hands in Sir Alex Ferguson’s office on the first day back in training for Manchester United after the 2006 World Cup, Gary Neville has revealed.
Ronaldo attracted anger in England after running to the referee to lead the Portugal protests that Rooney should be dismissed, then was caught on camera winking at the team benches after the forward was given his marching orders.
This could have led to friction in the Old Trafford dressing room, although former United defender Neville said Ferguson acted immediately to nip any problems in the bud when the players returned for pre-season training ahead of the 2006-07 season.
Speaking on Sky Sports , Neville said: “First day back in training, I was called into the office with Wayne and Cristiano by the manager, he wanted to see if there were any problems, any hangovers.
“They were actually really good friends, they used to socialise – Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano and Wayne were very close to each other.
“Because the whole of the country was against him (Ronaldo), it did feel like a David Beckham-type moment in our dressing room. There was this thing about England and Manchester United, with England fans having a go at the United players, there was no love lost anyway.
“When Beckham came back in 1998 everyone at United rallied around him, and it was the same with Cristiano in 2006, and it helped him go and prove everybody wrong.
“It was the first morning of pre-season, they shook hands, there was no problem whatsoever. To be fair, Wayne is knowledgeable enough to know that on a football pitch, anything goes – we had the same mentality at United. Cristiano was trying to win for his country, Wayne would not expect anything different and neither would I.”
Ferguson’s peacekeeping efforts were richly rewarded, as United won the Premier League title in 2006-07, the first of three in a row for a side featuring Ronaldo and Rooney in their forward line.
Ronaldo was a key figure in all three title victories before moving on to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 in a then-world record £80 million ($100m) transfer.