Jonathan Woodgate has given an interview to Ladbrokes in which he talked about his time at Real Madrid. The English central recalls that injuries only allowed him to play 14 games as a merengue player and reveals who was his main support during his time at the white club: Ronaldo Nazario.
Woodgate’s passage through Madrid started badly from the day of his debut, which took place on September 22, 2005. That day Madrid defeated Athletic 3-1 at the Bernabéu, but the central defender scored the away goal in own goal and ended up expelled. “I was 24 when I made my debut at Real Madrid. The main thing that people forget about that game is that we won, luckily. To be honest, I was very happy about it. Ronaldo was the first to come talk to me after the game. He asked me how I was doing, and I obviously told him I was disappointed in myself. However, he saw the positives. Obviously, I had missed the entire season due to injury, and he told me not to be disappointed, because my leg was fine. That was the most important thing: that I had debuted without injuring myself. He said, ‘Now you’re on the crest of the wave.’ It was great to hear, especially from a player of that stature. It helped me a lot to get through things, and I quickly realized that everyone makes mistakes throughout their career. “
Woodgate also describes the close relationship he had with Ronaldo at Madrid from then on, revealing how the world champion entertained his English friends when they came to visit: “Ronaldo is the player I have gotten along with the best during my stay at Madrid; he was very good to me from my first day. He helped me when I got injured and he was always looking out for me. We went out together quite often to eat. When my friends came from Middlesbrough, he entertained them; that’s just surreal, and I’m sure my teammates thought the same as me … ‘oh my gosh, I’m eating and dating one of the best players in the world.’
Woodgate says he does not have enough words to explain what the support that Ronaldo gave him meant to him and acknowledges that all the praise falls short: “I can’t say enough about him.” After his time at Madrid, the center-back had two spells at Middlesbrough, in addition to playing for Tottenham and Stoke City. However, injuries ultimately prevented him from living up to his potential and he retired in 2016.