Harry Kewell believes Liverpool “made the right decision” to sign him instead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Reds signed the Australian for £5 million from Leeds United in 2003 ahead of an 18-year-old Ronaldo, who instead went to Manchester United.
Kewell told AS (h/t James Cambridge of the Express):
“I mean, back when I signed for Liverpool, I think I was the No. 1 person to go round in that year. I think he [manager Gerard Houllier] made the right decision.
“In hindsight, yes, you could turn around and say a lot of things, there’s a lot of great players that have gone elsewhere that have never been signed.
“I think recently the biggest one was Raul. He got let go by Atletico Madrid and then look where he went to.”
Former Reds manager Gerard Houllier recently admitted he was interested in signing Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon but was unwilling to meet his wage demands.
He told the Liverpool Echo‘s Paul Gorst: “I saw him in the Toulon under-21 tournament and we went for him, but we had a wage scale and we weren’t paying the sort of salary he wanted.”
The Frenchman added: “Maybe we would have won the title with Ronaldo, but we had Harry Kewell, who was outstanding at the time and was very hungry but got a bad injury.”
Kewell made 137 appearances for the Reds in a five-year spell in which he won the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, albeit he spent much of the last two seasons on the sidelines, and he mustered just 16 goals.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals for United as he won three Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions League, two League Cups and the FA Cup, before he moved to Real Madrid in 2009.
He enhanced his own UEFA Champions League records with a penalty against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, per the competition’s official Twitter account and ESPN Stats & Info:
Cristiano Ronaldo's record in the #UCL for Real Madrid. 💪 Your all-time favourite @realmadrid legend is _____ https://t.co/KdLiMFgURg
Real Madrid ties up Tottenham on a Cristiano Ronaldo PK. Ronaldo extends his own UEFA Champions League records to 110 goals & 13 penalties.
The strike took his overall record with Los Blancos to a staggering 413 goals in 403 games, a record that cements him among the best to have ever played.
While it’s not too surprising Kewell has backed himself, Liverpool’s recent history would likely have been quite different had they signed Ronaldo instead.