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RUBEN Rodrigues is desperate to channel his inner Cristiano Ronaldo and fire Oxford United into the Championship

Ruben Rodrigues, inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo, aims to lead Oxford United to Championship promotion. In an interview with SportsBoom, the Portuguese midfielder discusses his admiration for Ronaldo, his football journey, and the passion for the game in Portugal

Shane MacDermott
S. MacDermott

Last Updated: 2024-05-17

Louis Hobbs

8 minutes read

Ruben Rodrigues: Oxford United sign Notts County forward on free

The Portuguese playmaker grew up watching the now five-time Ballon D’or winner as he lit up the Premier League with Manchester United.

Rodrigues made the move to England himself in 2020 and helped Notts County regain their Football League status at Wembley last season.

He will return to the national stadium as Des Buckingham’s U’s aim to end a five-year journey in their quest to reach the second tier.

Image Credits: BBC Sport

Image Credits: BBC Sport

Oxford lock horns with Bolton Wanderers at Wembley on Saturday with one side destined to be playing in the Championship next season

And the 27-year-old told SportsBoom.com: “I idolised Cristiano. I’ve been a big, big fan of him since a young age.

“But not when he was at Sporting, because we are Benfica supporters! We’re not the best friends back then.

“I’ve been following him ever since he went to Manchester United. He was a young, Portuguese guy and went to one of the biggest clubs in the world. “He’s a big, big idol for everyone in Portugal.

“I used to pretend I was him growing up doing the tricks and I still do it now. I’m still tying to do the knuckle ball free-kick.

“I’ve been trying to imitate him all my career. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

“I don’t know why we produce so many flair players in Portugal, Brazil, Argentina and places like that.

“The only thing I can think is the love for football is just so much bigger there. Everywhere you go you just see a ball and kids playing.

“The beaches help as well. Everyone is either on the beach doing keepy-ups and skills or on the street playing.

“I think the passion there is just bigger than in the UK.

“Everyone in the UK it’s always ‘it’s hard football, hard football’ and that gets ingrained to you.

“But back home in Portugal it’s all about skill when you’re young and everyone becomes skilful.

“I also think it’s the way you are brought up really.”

Rodrigues found League One a big step up after making the move from non-league last summer

He added: “At the start, I had to get my fitness up. My fitness wasn’t the best when I got here. I lacked a bit or speed and experience as well.

“The players here are so experienced. I had to definitely step up and get better and I think I’ve done a good job with that.

“There was a bit of a lifestyle change which comes from going from being a non-league player to League One. They didn’t really bother with what you were doing in non-league.

“They give you a programme and things like that, but there’s just a big difference when you go to League One. It’s certainly a step up in all aspects.”

Buckingham’s charges edged out Peterborough United in the semi-finals and are on win away from finally securing their Championship status

But they will have to reverse the form book after being hammered 5-0 by the Trotters last time they faced off back in March.

 

Shane MacDermott
Shane MacDermott Sports Writer

Shane is a respected journalist who has covered a range of sports for a number of years.