Former Portsmouth star Richard Hughes has revealed being headbutted by Cristiano Ronaldo was one of his career highlights.
According to the TheSun, Hughes came off the bench as a sub under specific instruction to contain Ronaldo at set-pieces.
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And the midfielder – who spent nearly a decade at Portsmouth between 2002 and 2011, playing 165 times – did so well he caused the United legend to lose his rag, headbutt him and get sent off.
Looking back at that game, Hughes told Played Up Pompey Three: “It was a trivial moment. One of the highlights of my career, but an insignificant encounter for Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I’m not someone who scored loads of goals, so I have to remember other landmarks.
“Should I ever meet people who don’t necessarily remember me playing Premier League football, I can always tell them that one of the game’s greats headbutted me.
“Sir Alex Ferguson afterwards said Ronaldo shouldn’t get involved with inferior players.
“He was absolutely right, I am an inferior player. Did I take offence?
“Well, 99 per cent of the footballing world is inferior to Cristiano Ronaldo, so I had absolutely no problem with that.”
Hughes went on to explain just how he got under Ronaldo’s skin – revealing he was under specific instructions to challenge the United legend at set-pieces.
The ex-Pompey man continued: “Having come off the bench, my instructions were to pick up Ronaldo from set-pieces.
“I knew if he had a run on the ball then his jump was unbelievable.
“So when a corner was about to be taken, I deliberately moved towards him to make us collide, yet portrayed it as accidental while the ball sailed over our heads.
“He knew what I was up to – I was blocking his ability to get a run on the cross.
“Then another corner opportunity arrived – and this time he was looking out for me.
“Ronaldo went to push me off, so I flipped his hand away and the timing was perfect, he came stumbling forward and landed against my chest.
“‘Get off’, I shouted as he was in my face… typical footballers behaving like stags.
“Now I wasn’t interested in a head-to-head altercation, so he had to come in a little closer – and, when he did, he popped against the side of my head.
“He didn’t mean to headbutt me, but went in aggressively and ended up doing just that.”
Revealing he didn’t believe Ronaldo should have been shown red, Hughes continued by admitting he worried he would get in trouble for his tactics.
Hughes claimed: “I don’t actually think he should have been sent off, but it did make a sound and the referee Steve Bennett was right there next to us.
“I was conscious not to make a huge deal of it, I didn’t go down, but shouted ‘Ref, is he allowed to do that?’
“’No’, said Bennett – and Ronaldo was shown the red card.
“Suddenly I was having this out-of-body experience, this was going to be big news and I was asking myself whether I had done anything wrong.
“Could I be charged afterwards? Well, I didn’t even receive a booking.
“Ronaldo could have been a huge influence in that game and I was delighted.
“Anyone who tells you they don’t want to see a fellow pro dismissed is talking nonsense.”
United won the return fixture at Old Trafford 2-0, with Ronaldo scoring both.
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