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How Man United persuaded Ronaldo to reject city rival



Twelve years after first leaving Old Trafford, Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Manchester United, having agreed to a sensational return.

It is a move that has been talked about again and again in the time since his departure to Real Madrid in 2009, but without ever really coming close to happening. There was speculation in 2013 and again in 2018, but finally in 2021, United and Ronaldo are preparing for a spectacular reunion.

In the span of 48 hours, and with less than a week remaining in the summer transfer window, Ronaldo told Juventus of his desire to leave the club and, appeared set to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Then, a flurry of text messages and phone calls led to Ronaldo choosing his former club over their most immediate rivals.

After six years at United from 2003-2009 — 292 appearances, 118 goals, three Premier League titles and a Champions League triumph in 2008 — Ronaldo made no secret of his desire to join Real Madrid for a then-world record fee of £80 million. But he has remained a fan favourite at United and was celebrated as a returning hero on visits back to Manchester with Real Madrid and Juventus. He even refused to celebrate when his goal for Real Madrid at Old Trafford helped Real Madrid knock United out of the Champions League in 2013 — Sir Alex Ferguson’s last European tie before his retirement.

Ronaldo still calls Ferguson his « football father » and the pair have stayed in regular contact over the years, with Ferguson greeting him after Portugal won the European Championships in 2016. Ferguson played his part in ensuring the five-time Ballon d’Or winner signed for United after deciding to leave Juventus this summer, just when it looked like Ronaldo could do the unthinkable and join rivals Manchester City. It also had long been the ambition of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to bring him back.

How Manchester United did it

United are not hiding the fact that they didn’t begin the summer transfer window with plans to sign Ronaldo. ESPN reported in June, before the start of the European Championships, that Ronaldo’s representatives (led by his agent, Jorge Mendes) were gauging interest from some of Europe’s top clubs, including United, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, if — and, at that point, it was a big « if » — he left Juventus.

The answer from United at the time was a polite no, partly because of a belief that he would decide to see out the final year of his contract in Turin, and partly because of the numbers involved — especially for a player who, while at the peak of his fitness, turns 37 in February — but also because their priorities in the transfer market were elsewhere.

Solskjaer predicted Cristiano Ronaldo return in 2019Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested Cristiano Ronaldo would return when talking to children in April 2019.

Mendes got a similar answer from Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Manchester City. Then came Harry Kane’s announcement, made on Wednesday, that he would not be moving to City this summer and instead would remain at Tottenham for at least another year. With no prospect of signing their top target, City began looking into other options and before long, Mendes was back on the phone.

The response this time was more positive than it had been in June and with Ronaldo finally making a decision to leave Juventus, even missing a training session last week, City began looking at how to make a deal work. There was a reluctance to meet the financial demands of both Juventus and Ronaldo — he earned €31m net and bonuses per year at Juventus, who also asked for around €28m in a transfer fee to avoid a capital loss on the deal that brought Ronaldo from Real Madrid in 2018 — and Pep Guardiola also had reservations about how he would fit in on and off the pitch.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest highlights and debate the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

Still, on Thursday, City had agreed to keep talking to Mendes, but by then, things were already changing. As the prospect of Ronaldo joining City became more and more real and United fans began expressing their outrage, his former United teammates Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, Portugal teammate Bruno Fernandes, and Ferguson all got involved. For their part, Ferdinand and Ferguson told him simply « you cannot sign for City. » Phone calls were made and WhatsApp messages sent to Ronaldo — Evra later posted a portion of his conversation on Twitter — while Woodward began talking to Mendes.

On Thursday night, Mendes received a proposal from United. On Friday morning, conversations with Juventus began and United assured the Italian club they were prepared to pay a fee, something City had so far resisted. There were conversations about players possibly moving in the other direction but eventually a transfer fee of €15 million, with another €8m in add-ons, was agreed.

When United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s weekly news conference began at 1:15 p.m. UK time on Friday, he was already confident Ronaldo was coming back. Each question about Ronaldo was batted away by Solskjaer until, right at the end, he said pointedly « he knows what we feel about him and if he is going to move, he knows we are here. »

The cat was out of the bag. City sources insist they pulled out well before Guardiola began his own news conference at 1:30 p.m. UK time, but official word didn’t filter through until later in the afternoon. City remain unhappy with Mendes’ role in the saga with some believing he used interest from the Etihad to force United into acting.

Sources close to Ronaldo admit he considered a move to City, but once United revealed their hand, his mind was made up and that he had even taken a small pay cut to make it happen.

Sources have also told ESPN that the pitch made to Ronaldo, done in part by former teammate and now technical director Darren Fletcher, was about « completing unfinished business at Old Trafford and writing a new chapter rather than trying to relive the past. » And at 4:50 p.m. UK on Friday, the official announcement came through to cap off a remarkable 24 hours. (Bruno later joked he was an « agent » once the news was public.)

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest highlights and debate the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

« Manchester United is delighted to confirm that the club has reached an agreement with Juventus for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, subject to agreement of personal terms, visa and medical, » it read. « Everyone at the club looks forward to welcoming Cristiano back to Manchester. » United’s announcement post on Instagram is the most liked post by a sports team ever, in any sport.

Even when, to outsiders at least, City seemed destined to sign Ronaldo, those within Old Trafford knew that the player’s deep-rooted affection for United would give them a chance of persuading him to choose red rather than blue. Ronaldo has maintained contact with many from his time at United, principally Ferdinand and Evra, but he also has retained relationships with members of staff behind the scenes. And one staffer has told ESPN of a moment in Turin, following United’s 2-1 Champions League win against Juventus in November 2018, when his ongoing respect for United became clear.

« We had just beaten Juve with two late goals and Jose Mourinho, the manager at the time, went onto the pitch and started to goad the Juventus fans by cupping his ear to the noise, » the United source said. « A lot of the players were pissed off with [Mourinho] because it seemed like he was making the win about him rather than the team and Cristiano was furious with him, too.

« He walked past and said, ‘[Mourinho] doesn’t have the class to manage Manchester United. »’

« We’ve always known that Ronaldo loved his time at Old Trafford, but I think what people outside the club don’t appreciate is how much he still cares, and always has, about what happens here. »

After missing on Ronaldo and Kane, what now for Man City?Mark Ogden and Craig Burley discuss Manchester City’s lack of a true No. 9 after failing to sign Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Since assuming his role as executive vice-chairman in 2013, following the retirement of chief executive David Gill, Woodward has made it his business to get close to the game’s so-called « super-agents. »

Gill, perhaps influenced by Ferguson’s deep-rooted disdain for player representatives, always kept them at arm’s length, treating many with suspicion and trusting only those he had grown to know and respect during a decade in the job. Woodward had no such inhibitions, and he worked hard to cultivate relationships with the likes of Mino Raiola — adviser of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erling Haaland, among others — and Mendes, Ronaldo’s long-standing representative.

On one occasion, while enjoying drinks with journalists before United’s Champions League tie against Olympiakos in Athens in February 2014, Woodward’s phone rang, with the screen clearly showing the caller’s name. Rather than quickly diverting the call or moving away to take it privately, Woodward instead made sure everyone knew who was calling him — « Ha! It’s Jorge Mendes, » he said.

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Abike Dabiri-Erewa: A woman of timber and caliber



Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa can be described as a strong woman in the midst of millions of active men. She always comes up with creative solutions, stays positive even during hard times, and looks so impressive that little girls want to be like her when they grow up.

She is successively taking on the challenges of her motherland, pushing the boundaries of activism and representation, and being an all-round Amazon. When some Nigerians hear ‘number one tough cookie’ as a nickname for this ever-solid woman, they nod their heads and agree that she is indeed tough to crack but can be relied on to be nothing other than herself.

The war in Ukraine has taught Nigerians many things, including the need to appreciate their peaceful—if leisurely developing—nation. However, while some Nigerians feel sorry for their fellow citizens trapped in Ukrainian soil, others are having a good time stoking schadenfreude in their hearts. But not Dabiri-Erewa or the Nigerians in Diaspora (NiDCOM) team that she leads.

Thanks to the timely intervention by Dabiri-Erewa and company, most Nigerians in Ukraine, especially the students, are back on Nigeria’s shores. Along with gratitude at the prayers that the more compassionate Nigerians back home offered to God on their behalf, these students are beset with joy. After all, as long as there is life, the possibilities for change are endless.

This is something that Dabiri-Erewa has shown time and again: a determined heart will accomplish great things regardless of opposition. It is consequently no surprise she has managed to exceed expectations over and over again. And just when you think a particular challenge will topple her, Dabiri-Erewa turns it into a victory song and the international community is reminded of a force in Nigeria called NiDCOM and a controller surnamed Dabiri-Erewa.

There are women and there are women, some of whom are metallic in their disposition, cold to the touch, and inclined to smite others. Then there are those with a wooden personality, gentle, reliable, but also seemingly uninteresting. Then there are the precious stones like Dabiri-Erewa who have gone through more fire and pressure than their peers. Any wonder that Dabiri-Erewa is still on top of her game?

She knows what she wants, can get her shit together and put the amount of hard work into project in order to get the desired results. She doesn’t pretend to be weak to make others do her job for her, but she delegates tasks when necessary.

An indigene of Ikorodu from the famous Erogbogbo family in Lagos State, she has, right from her childhood till date, been a front-liner, a go-getter, an ice breaker, a workaholic, a detribalised Nigerian, a patriotic citizen and a devoted servant of Allah.

There are not enough words to fully describe this ebullient woman of substance who has consistently demonstrated her efficiency and diligence right from her eventful years at NTA till her sojourn in politics, which made her a three-time parliamentarian in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2015, representing her people in Ikorodu Federal Constituency, where she played an active and impactful role in all the national assignments she was given.

Her trademark diligence and dynamism were further brought to bear when she was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs from 2016 to 2019. This office later metamorphosed into the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) where she is currently serving as the pioneer Chairman/Chief Executive Officer and where she has continued to play her role diligently, effectively and inspirational.

On March 24, 2022, the authorities of Lagos State University bestowed on her a Honorary Doctorate Degree during its 25th Convocation ceremony, an award that award changed her nomenclature to Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa. It was one honour too distinctive so truly well-deserved and so uncommonly well-appreciated.

For those who have been following the selfless, proactive, exemplarily motivational life of Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa, would have seen that it has been rewarded and appreciated with too many awards, honours and recognition of excellence which are, in fact, too numerous to list.

Of all of the awards she has been honoured with over the years, undoubtedly, this latest one, OON, inspires a high sense of fulfillment and elation that comes to one when one’s nation honours a person. This is what Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa must have felt when she got the surprise nomination letter on October 8, 2022. Of all the awards, honours and recognitions since she has received from 2003 till date, none has changed her status and her nomenclature more profoundly than this latest one; hence, its uniqueness.

An admirer of Abike Dabiri-Erewa said this of the harvest of awards and honours: “It is indeed an honour well-deserved. She has come a long way. She has paid her dues. She has breasted the inclement weather of the media profession, especially in this clime. I still remember her days with NTA. Confident reporter. She made reporting look easy. Congratulations sister. Barakalah fihi.”

Even more remarkably, in his congratulatory message, President Buhari believes Dabiri-Erewa’s sincerity of purpose, meticulous handling of sensitive issues, and capacity to share her vision and others along easily pedestal her for leadership positions, extolling her skillful handling of the Diaspora family and building a mutually beneficial relationship with the government and citizens at home.

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A European visitor once described Cameroon and its marvels as a place where God might have chosen as His own abode to dwell. Others have described the country simply as “Africa in miniature.”

There’s no gainsaying that anything that can be found in any part of Africa can also be found in Cameroon. These bountiful resources and beautiful geographical features of Cameroon are found in its four geographical zones: the beautiful savanna grass fields, through the three Northern Sahel regions, down to the coastal or littoral regions, and back to the Fang-Beti centre/south regions.

This blend brings out the beauty—not only in the country’s geography but, more importantly, in the hospitable nature of the people.

A Cameroonian from the Centre/South may disagree with his brother from the Western Savanna plateau or regions of the West and North West regions. Yet, both cannot afford to disagree with a visitor from a different country or continent.

This is because of the rich cultural and linguistic diversity of the people who inhabit the geographical expression referred to as Cameroon. It couldn’t have been different, given the rich gastronomic delights from the various geographical spheres of the country.

In Chinua Achebe’s book, The Trouble with Nigeria, the renowned African writer argues that the trouble with Nigeria is not about the climate, given that Nigeria has two seasons─the rainy and the dry seasons. The trouble is not about geography, as Nigeria has good topography. It’s not with the people either, as Nigeria has nice and welcoming people. He argues that the trouble with Nigeria is about the leadership not living up to the demands and dictates of its job. The same could be said with the rectitude of Cameroon.

The beauty in Cameroon, and by extension, Africa, is the exceptional welcoming nature of the majority of its local population. This is not only towards Europeans, Chinese and Americans but, more importantly, towards fellow Africans.

Unlike citizens in Maghrebian countries that would have to remind you each time you are visiting any of the northern African countries that “we are brothers,” Cameroonians, in their legendary hospitality, show it in deeds, not just in words.

One of the things that also make Cameroon stand out from others is its rich and diverse hospitality industry. From mouth-watering dishes from the beautiful sandy beaches and eco-friendly forests to the Sahel-Savannah carpet grass fields, hospitality does not come in short supply.

To try to capture Cameroon’s legendary hospitality in one write-up would be to behave like the house owner who thought he could market the beauty of his house by carrying around a bloc specimen rather than just presenting the whole edifice.

So, if you want to feel the hospitality of Cameroon, take Cameroon as your next touristic destination.

See you soon!

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It is almost impossible to visit Cameroon’s coastal cities, like Kribi, Limbe, and Douala, without making a stop at a grilled fish spot. Each time a visiting tourist or expatriate is asked to recount memorable stories about their stay in the Cameroon, grilled fish is one of their most talked-about delicacies.
This delicious street food can be enjoyed with roasted or fried plantain, fried Irish potato, miondo, bobolo, boiled cassava, or even on alone. Interestingly, grilled fish is low in calories—thus, very suitable for a healthy meal.
The roasting of seafood for commercial purposes has gained considerable ground with time. The activity grew widely and gained more exposure with the influx of visitors into the country during the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Hundreds of fans from different countries, including Nigeria, who visited Limbe and Douala, employed the services of local grilled fish makers. Fans could be spotted at joints with a plate of beautifully-spiced grilled fish, accompanied by Cameroon’s spicy sauce.
On the shores of Down Beach in the Fako Division of the South West Region is a modest spot called “Bucareaux,” which has become popular owing to its supply of tasty grilled fish and other seafood.
Fish prices at Bucareaux range from 2500frs to 25,000frs, depending on the size and species, and it’s usually overcrowded during the weekend. Tilapia, crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are the most patronized seafood.
Bucareaux also has a pan-African setting, given that many arts and crafts dealers sell their artifacts around the spot. This distinguishes Bucareaux from Rue de la Joie, the legendary neighborhood of Deido Douala, where grilled fish—Poisson braissée, as it is called in French—is sold on a large scale.
Rue De La Joie is known across Cameroon and beyond for its merry traits. It is usually crowded with customers who go there to eat, drink and have fun. Life always seems to be going on happily there. Indeed, it is “the street of joy,” as it is popularly called.
Daily, as the sun sets, vendors prepare charcoal ovens, set to grill different species of fish to their customers’ delight. Music from the snack bars calls customers’ attention.
For the purpose of this write-up, our team visited a local joint called Avenida Fish at the East Entrance of Rue de La Joie, intending to know the secret behind the enticing taste of grilled fish, which has left many returning for more.
We spoke with 23-year-old Mbah Princewill, who manages the place. He assured us that the first secret lies in the deliciousness of the pepper sauce and the freshness of the fish. Mbah’s pepper sauce is prepared with a composition of local Cameroonian spices.
“This delicious and spicy roasted fish recipe is a typical Cameroonian Style. It has got a very flavorful and delicious taste. Cameroonian Roasted fish has many variations, and we try to make it as tasty as possible. We have many quality tropical African ingredients for our Cameroonian roasted fish,” Mbah explained.
The fish sold at Avenida and other joints around Rue de la Joie are gotten directly from local fishermen. Mbah is responsible for selecting the fish and giving directions for their different prices. Some are stored in a 360cm deep freezer to minimize shortages and keep them fresh.
Once a customer places an order, the fish is cleaned, seasoned, and grilled. The grilling process also depends on the quality of fish. Mbah and his team put in the necessary expertise to ensure their clients enjoy their orders while maintaining a friendly relationship with them. This relationship, he says, is important for the business.
Aside from being the economic hub of Cameroon, Douala is also a metropolitan city where business-friendly potentials attract thousands of business people year-round.
It is not unlikely to see business partners striking deals over a bottle of beer and a plate of grilled fish at famous spots such as the Naval base, the Marina Complex in Youpwe, and Petit terrain in Bonamoussadi, amongst others.
The scenario in Douala is not different from that of the seaside town of Kribi in the South region.
Kribi Beach, also known as the Cameroon Riviera, is the best beach in Cameroon. It is located on the Gulf of Guinea shore, in Kribi, 150 km South-West of the capital city Douala. The spacious beach is covered with gray sand and surrounded by a tropical forest
The beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, walking in the tropical forest, riding in a canoe, playing beach volleyball and football, diving, and other kinds of water sports
Recreation on Kribi Beach is a perfect opportunity for tourists to get to know the Baka people, enjoy grilled barbecue fish on the beach in Copacabana, and take beautiful photos with the sea as background.
Among the attractions at Kribi Beach are the Kribi lighthouse, the Lobe waterfall flowing directly into the Atlantic Ocean, and the Campo Faunal nature reserve.
Moreso, it’s worth visiting Ebodjé to watch sea turtles, see the Nkolandom caves, and the village of pygmies.

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