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Exclusive: Valencia legend Claramunt reveals 'true Ronaldo story' before Man Utd move

Valencia legend Pep Claramunt has revealed how the club dismissed his recommendation of a young Cristiano Ronaldo.

In April 2003, Claramunt spotted Ronaldo playing for Portugal in the Toulon Tournament at just 17 years of age and was excited about his potential.

The former midfielder, regarded as one of Valencia's greatest ever players, was working as a scout and contacted Los Che about signing the Sporting Lisbon winger.

Speaking exclusively to Tribalfootball, Claramunt said: "The true 'Ronaldo' story is that, at the time, I was a technical secretary with Jesus García Pitarch and scouting for new players in Spain and abroad.

"I went to an international tournament in Toulon, France and there were teams like Brazil, Argentina and Portugal playing. I spotted Cristiano Ronaldo playing and just fell in love with his football and I could see his enormous potential as a footballer at the age of just 17 years of age.

"I contacted Valencia CF and told them that Ronaldo was a future number one player and that he was going to change the world of football… but they didn't take my opinion into account."

Claramunt explained Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, had made an agreement with Valencia presidential candidate, Paco Roig.

At the time there was a power struggle for control of the La Liga club and Roig agreed to sign Ronaldo, as well as Ricardo Quaresma, if he won the elections.

Roig was not successful in his campaign and the pre-contract was ripped up.

And Claramunt has said he attempted to push for Ronaldo even after Roig's failure, but the club did not listen.

"On top of that, Ronaldo's representative Mendes did a pre-contract deal (which I have seen in writing as a document) with VCF presidential hopeful Paco Roig. The pre-contract deal stated that Ronaldo and Quaresma would be Valencia players if Paco Roig became elected as president of Valencia before May 30th of that year.

"Paco Roig had not even seen Ronaldo play in the flesh but he absolutely trusted Mendes' opinion about him. It was pesetas in those days and Ronaldo was to be sold to Valencia for about 4 million euros and Quaresma for about 2 million euros in today's currency.

"Paco Roig didn't become president so, after May 30th of that year, the pre-contract was dissolved. Despite my insistence, Valencia CF chose not to follow up on Cristiano Ronaldo. A few months later, Manchester United played Sporting Lisboa in a friendly and I believe that Alex Ferguson pretty much signed Ronaldo after that match in the summer! The one that got away…"

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Will McCarthy

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