Manchester United great Gary Neville has revealed why Sir Alex Ferguson never made Cristiano Ronaldo the captain of the club.

Ahead of the 2003-04 season, the Old Trafford side paid $15.2 million to Sporting Lisbon for Ronaldo, who then turned out to be the costliest teenager in the history of Premier League. In his stint with the English side, which lasted for six years, the Portuguese scored 118 goals in as many as 292 appearances.

With the likes of Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick, Man Utd had one of the best teams in the late 2000s. Even though the Portuguese was one of the most prolific players in the Man Utd squad, Ferguson never handed him the captain’s armband. Ronaldo kick-started his Premier League career under the captaincy of Neville, who led Man Utd from 2005 to 2011.

In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Neville confessed that he never felt qualified enough to captain a star-studded side and which is why he encouraged Ferguson to demote him but the request was straight away turned down by the iconic manager.

“I got injured a year after taking the captaincy and that became really difficult for me. It felt as though I wasn’t contributing like a captain should be for my last four years."

"I actually went to see Sir Alex in pre-season about the third year I was captain. We had an amazing team: Ronaldo, Rooney, [Carlos] Tevez, Giggs, [Paul] Scholes, [Michael] Carrick, [Rio] Ferdinand, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Patrice] Evra, [Edwin] van der Sar… there were some great personalities and players in that group. I went over to Sir Alex walking onto the training pitch and said, ‘I don’t feel worthy of keeping the captaincy anymore. This team is to a level I can’t compete at,’” Neville revealed.

“He said, ‘You’ll keep that f---ing armband, son.’ The reason he gave me was, ‘You and Giggs will rotate it. If I give it to Ronaldo, Rooney will kick off, if I give it to Rooney, Ronaldo will kick off. If I give it to Vidic, Ferdinand won’t be happy,’” Neville, who played 400 matches for Man Utd, added.

The 45-year-old, who became a coach and soccer pundit post his playing career, explained Giggs and he kept the captaincy only to help retain the “camaraderie” in the dressing room.

“So literally I think me and Giggsy kept it for three or four years beyond that just purely because of the fact the camaraderie in the dressing room. We were the policemen if you like, the older statesmen. Sir Alex wanted to make sure the team came first. Even though I felt unworthy as a captain at that stage,” the former right-back said further.

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 2014
Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo wants to extend his stay at the Bernabeu, but Barcelona may come calling. Reuters

While Virdic, Rooney and Ferdinand went on to captain Man Utd in the future, Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid. Unfortunately, he did not get to lead the La Liga side as well even though his most glorious years came with them. He helped Real lift 15 trophies including four Champions League titles, two La Liga trophies and three FIFA World Cups. Ronaldo, however, is the current captain of Portugal’s national team and he led them to success at the Euro 2016 and they triumphed in the inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League 2018-19.