After spending nine seasons with Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo left the Champions League winners and made a switch to Juventus in the summer.
The Turin club could have secured the Portuguese star’s signature even before he moved to Manchester United in 2003, but Sir Alex Ferguson was successful in beating other clubs to his signature.
Former Juventus youth coach Vincenzo Chiarenza was the Old Lady’s last coach to help them win the Campionato Nazionale Primavera in 2006.
He initially started with the Berretti squad (players who are below 19), while Gian Piero Gasperini was head of the Primavera squad (main youth category in Italy and above the Berretti squad) and replaced the current Atalanta manager as youth coach in 2003.
While Chiarenza was managing the Berretti, he also travelled across the continent to identify young talents and that’s when he came across Ronaldo, who was then representing the Primeira Liga outfit.
Chiarenza, who had no plans to watch the former Manchester United man in action, and tells Sport Witness what attracted him about Ronaldo the most.
“During the 2002/03 season, I was coaching Juventus U19 side, while Gasperini was in charge of the Primavera,” Chiarenza told Sport Witness.
“Part of my job was to go around Europe and monitor players and teams. I had the chance to travel to Lisbon and that’s where I came across young Ronaldo at Sporting.
“Ronaldo was on the sidelines and the first thing that impressed me was the way the young fella was warming up before getting in to the game.
“The determination and intensity in his warm up even before getting on the football field was impressive. Even if he played just 25 minutes, he made a clear difference in the game and he impressed me even before he came to the pitch.
“I must admit that I was not there to observe Ronaldo especially, but he was outstanding already at such young age. I informed the sporting executive at Juventus about him, but I am not sure what happened after that.”