The 22-year-old has a fearless reputation on the pitch, but the prospect of meeting an all-time great left him feeling anxious
USMNT star Weston McKennie has spoken about the first time he met Cristiano Ronaldo after joining new club Juventus, insisting that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s “warm” demeanour put him at ease after originally being star-struck upon his arrival.
McKennie made the switch to the Bianconeri from Schalke in the summer transfer window on a loan deal, with the Serie A champions having the option to make his move permanent for a fee that could rise to €25.5 million (£23m/$30m).
The 22-year-old midfield enforcer has made no secret in the past of his desire to one day ply his trade in the Premier League, but admitted that he could not turn down the offer of a club as big as the Turin giants.
Being such a storied outfit, Juve boast some of the best players in the game, and McKennie admits that the lead-up to his first encounter with Portugal’s captain and all-time leading scorer was an anxious affair.
“It’s been honestly a big honour to play with Cristiano Ronaldo. I still remember the first time I met him, I was walking down the hallway and I was like, oh snap, be cool, be cool,” McKennie said in an interview with ESPN. “[But] he’s a really genuine guy, straight to the point, he wants to win, he has a great mentality and we also joke around – he calls me Texas Boy.
“For a player with all the accomplishments in his career, he could be snobby and stuck up, but he’s very open and warm and brings all the players into the game no matter what age you are.”
McKennie added: “It was definitely jaw-dropping, walking into the locker room and seeing the players you play with on PES (Pro Evolution Soccer). It was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I think I can learn so much from these people and they have definitely taken me under their wing.
“This is a club that wins titles, that challenges with the best in the world and that’s what I want to do. It’s a club full of tradition, supported by many and it was very intriguing to come here.”