Ligue 2Nimes almost trumped Manchester United for Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, it has been revealed.

Their coach, Pierre Mosca, recalled to France Bleu how they made an attempt when Ronaldo was still with Sporting Lisbon.

"Cristiano Ronaldo was just 18 years old and already playing for Portugal's U21 team. He had an amazing game, with the same qualities that we have seen at Manchester United and Real Madrid. He played with great authority, capable of great control, skillful ... I would have liked to have signed him for Nîmes Olympique, but he was way beyond our means.

"Manchester United had already contacted him through a Portuguese scout who had informed (Sir Alex ) Ferguson.

"We had a chance, but he was too big for our small bait fish."

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