Cristiano Ronaldo has thanked Manchester United teammate Edinson Cavani for the “incredible gesture” of handing over the No 7 shirt as the Portuguese forward returned early from the international break.
Ronaldo, 36, rejoined United from Juventus in one of the most sensational transfers of the summer, returning to the club 12 years after leaving for Real Madrid. However, with the season already under way, Cavani retained the No 7 jersey from last season and wore it in the 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday. Cavani will switch to No 21 – the number he wears for Uruguay.
“I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to have the number seven shirt again, so I would like to say a huge thank you to Edi for this incredible gesture,” Ronaldo said on United’s Twitter account.
Ronaldo wore the No 7 during his first spell at United, during which he made 292 appearances and scored 118 goals, helping the club win nine trophies including three Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.
The news of Ronaldo’s shirt number occurred on the same day he was released from the Portugal squad after picking up a one-game suspension following their 2-1 victory over Ireland on Wednesday.
Ronaldo headed two late goals to give Portugal a 2-1 victory in their World Cup qualifier to become the leading goalscorer in the history of international football with 111.
He received a caution for taking his shirt off while celebrating the winner, meaning he would miss the trip to Azerbaijan on Tuesday.
The Portugal captain will also miss Saturday’s friendly against World Cup hosts Qatar in Hungary.
His release allows him to travel to England earlier than expected, giving him time to quarantine before he can start training with Manchester United ahead of a potential second debut at home against Newcastle United on September 11.