May 21, 2008, is a day that Cristiano Ronaldo will never forget. Now European club champion five times and national team champion once, the Portuguese international touched the continental sky for the first time 15 years ago.

    After falling in the semi-finals to AC Milan the previous season, CR7 guided Manchester United to their third Champions League/Cup with eight goals during the competition.

    The eighth was appointed in the final itself against Chelsea, at the Luzhniki Stadium, in Moscow, and witnessed by around 67,000 spectators. The Madeiran striker, then 23 years old, received a cross from the right by Wes Brown and went up to the second floor to head into Petr Cech’s goal, which was nailed to the lawn when 26 minutes had elapsed.

    Also during the first half, the red devils had two flagrant opportunities to extend the advantage, both by Carlos Tévez, but the Argentine wasted them. And as those who don’t score risk suffering, Avram Grant’s team reached the tie even before the break. A ball kicked from a distance by Michael Essien deflected off Vidic and Ferdinand, which led Van der Sar to evade and lose his balance and Lampard to take advantage of the leftovers to push towards the goal of Alex Ferguson’s team (45′).

    Both in the second half and in the extra time that followed, it was the Londoners who were closest to the second goal. United’s goal irons were worth it, which denied the goals of Drogba and Lampard.

    In the shootout for penalties, Nani had already converted his, it was 2-2 when Cristiano Ronaldo allowed Cech to save and took his hands to his head. John Terry was responsible for giving Chelsea the victory. The centre-back left confidently, having even adjusted his captain’s armband, perhaps already thinking about the moment to lift the cup, but slipped at the right time and hit the post. In the last kick, Anelka saw Van der Sar deny him the goal and become the hero of Manchester United’s return to European titles, nine years later.

    The Campaign started in Alvalade

    Cristiano Ronaldo, who on the same night went from heaven to hell and back again, was a relieved and euphoric man at the end of the night. “The feeling is brutal. It’s my first Champions League, it’s fantastic, it’s a great moment for me. I’ve dreamed of winning this trophy for a long time. It’s magnificent”, he said, as he looked at the medal with a smile, at the end of a campaign that started in Alvalade, with a 1-0 victory over Sporting, with his goal. The Lions, Roma and Dynamo Kyiv were the teams beaten by the Old Trafford side in the group stage, followed by Lyon, again Roma and Barcelona in the knockout stage.

    “I was disappointed when I missed the penalty, but I scored during the game. That’s the most important thing. I tried to help the team during the whole game. I think I scored a great goal. I missed the penalty, but that happens to players, it’s a lottery. Chelsea could have won, but we won. I think Edwin [van der Sar] made a great save”, he added at the time, guaranteeing that he would stay at Manchester United. And he stayed… for another year.

    Winning the Champions League, combined with the English championship, and the goals that made him not only the top scorer in the two competitions but also in the main European leagues were decisive for the Portuguese player to win his first Ballon d’Or. Viva John Terry.