''I had always followed Cristiano's career," Queiroz told the Telegraph, ''and delivered my opinion strongly every time we discussed whether to sign him or (Ricardo) Quaresma. We were not able to buy both and I was sure about Cristiano. So naturally when I left [in the summer of 2003] I made him my top target for Madrid.
"He headed the list I gave Jorge Valdano, the sporting director. But fortunately - I say that now - he ended up joining United instead. And it happened through me because Sporting Lisbon, where I was once the manager, used me to ask United to inaugurate their stadium [the Alvalade had been rebuilt for the forthcoming European Championship] by playing a pre-season friendly.
"So I went to Alex and he was happy to do it. Sporting won 3-1, Cristiano had a fantastic game -and all doubts about him disappeared.
''Alex had to make a quick decision after Lisbon," smiled Queiroz. ''Otherwise Jorge and I would have got Cristiano."