‘Truth comes first’ – Cristiano Ronaldo defiant on Old Trafford return

• Juventus forward faces questions over allegation of rape
• ‘We know it will be tough against United,’ Ronaldo says

Cristiano Ronaldo said on Monday he is a “happy man” and claimed “the truth comes first” as he answered questions in Manchester about the allegation of rape against him.

Ronaldo is expected to play for Juventus against his former club Manchester United in the Champions League match at Old Trafford on Tuesday. He is the subject of a criminal investigation by Las Vegas police and a separate civil action after the allegation of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, which she says happened in the summer of 2009. Ronaldo strenuously denies the allegation.

Ronaldo said: “I know I am an example. I know, 100%. On the pitch and outside the pitch. So I am always smiling, I am happy man, I’m blessed that I play in a fantastic club. I have a fantastic family, I have four kids, I am healthy. I have everything. So the rest, it doesn’t interfere on me. I’m very, very well.”

Pressed again, he said: “You didn’t listen to what I say. I am a happy man. We did the statement two weeks ago, if I’m not wrong. I am glad [about how it progresses]. Of course, I’m not going to lie in this situation, I’m very happy. My lawyers, they are confident and of course I am, too. The most important is I enjoy the football, I enjoy my life. The rest, I have people who take care of my life. Of course, the truth is always coming in the first position [eventually]. So, I’m good.”

Mayorga, now 34, alleges he assaulted her in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009, then used “fixers” to stop her pursuing criminal charges – including paying her $375,000 “hush money”. Police confirmed the original case was closed in 2009 due to Mayorga not disclosing details but it was reopened in September after she went public, inspired, she said, by the #MeToo movement.

For Ronaldo, the match on Tuesday night resumes a Champions League campaign that has so far extended only to 29 minutes, after he was sent off during a 2-0 win at Valencia, which drew a one-match ban.

He said: “The Champions League started two games ago, even if I’m returning now, it doesn’t matter that I was sent off and then didn’t play. We are in a great position and a win tomorrow will go a long way.”

Juventus have a maximum six points, with José Mourinho’s side in second place, two behind.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” Ronaldo said. “Manchester United are strong but, if we play the way the coach wants, we have a good chance to win the game. However, we can’t underestimate our opponents.”

Mourinho’s side have made a stuttering start to the season. Ronaldo said: “Manchester – they are good team, and they play at home, so it will be tough for us. We have our weapons. We are Juve, we know it will be tough but I think we have chance. If we play in a good way, the way the coach wants, we have a good chance to win. We have to respect Manchester United – they are a fantastic team, with an experienced coach, but I expect and look forward that Juve will win the game.”

Ronaldo moved to Juventus from Real Madrid in a £100m transfer during the summer. Of his time at the club so far, he said: “I’m happy to be at such a great team like Juventus. It’s a new chapter in my life after Manchester United and Real Madrid.”

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Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford, claiming three Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League. He first returned to face his former team in March 2013, for Real, scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

Ronaldo said. “It is special for me to return to Manchester. Here I have many memories of victories and affection, and in particular with Sir Alex Ferguson, to whom I send a big hug. He is a person who helped me so much.

“I’m very good at Juve. I’m still getting used to things but everyone from teammates to people at the club have helped me to settle in, and I’m really enjoying the experience.

“I don’t want to compare Real and Juve. They are both fantastic clubs. I’m happy to be at such a great team like Juventus and it’s a new chapter in my life after Manchester United and Real Madrid. The last two months at Juve have been amazing. I enjoy a lot to play there. Everything goes well, the team is fantastic.”

Ronaldo would not be drawn on Real, who are struggling in La Liga. “It’s not up to me to speak about Real.”


Jamie Jackson

The GuardianTramp

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