London, Sept.24 : Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson has told the football club's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo that should he decide to move to Real Madrid, he should leave Old Trafford a hero like Eric Cantona, rather than as a figure of hate.
Ferguson said: "Graeme Souness was right when he said that just as Italians all dream of playing one day for Juventus or the Milan clubs, so southern Europeans want at some point to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona."
"So I understood what was going on in Cristiano's mind when he declared he wanted to join Real. But once we had talked, he accepted it was a move for the future. The crowd still chant Cantona's name so I told Cristiano, 'Leave a hero like Eric' and one day he will - but not yet of course."
Ronaldo did nothing to dent his hero status last night, scoring United's opener in the 3-1 Carling Cup third round victory against Middlesbrough in his first start this season.
Story first published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 14:40 [IST]