It is fair to say Jose Semedo misses his childhood friend every single day.
The Portuguese midfield enforcer grew up with his fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon’s academy.
Despite going their separate ways nearly two decades ago, the duo have stayed in contact ever since, continuing to message each other most days.
They holidayed together last summer and Ronaldo even penned the foreword to Semedo’s maiden book ‘Win the Day’.
More than six years have passed since Ronaldo left Manchester United to join Real Madrid but Semedo hopes the 30-year-old will one day return to these shores.
“Ronaldo loves English football; he had a great time at Manchester United,” Semedo told The Star. “When we were younger, his dream was to play for United.
“His dream two clubs to play for were United and Real Madrid.
“I don’t really believe he will comeback to this country because he loves Madrid. He has such self belief and a big ego so only Madrid matches that.
“He will only leave Madrid if they don’t want him. I think he will retire there.
“For me personally, I wish for him to play in England. If he was in England, we would be closer and get to see each other more often.”
When they were teammates, Semedo and Ronaldo pushed each other to their limits.
He said: “We were both quite skinny when we were 11. There were older guys in the gym who teased us saying ‘you don’t eat anything’. We ate well but we just didn’t get any bigger!
“What we would do was sneak into the gym late at night to try and bulk up. We would go for one or two hours and then go to school the next day!
“You could tell then that Ronaldo was going to be a special player. He combined his talent with his mind discipline.
“I would kick him sometimes in training. He got so upset but he never stopped trying to skill me.”
Had it not been for an act of kindness from Ronaldo, things could have worked out very differently for Semedo.
After a poor season in his early teens, Semedo said Sporting planned to release him only for Ronaldo, the club’s golden boy, to intervene.
Semedo said: “We were just 13 years old and Ronaldo told the club management not to let me go. He asked them to put an extra bed in his room for me and asked me to share his cupboard to keep my clothes. The club accepted his request as they didn’t want to upset him. He changed my life. He is like my brother.
Ronaldo disliked school with a passion, according to Semedo.
“The first lesson was at 8:30am but he didn’t go to that one,” he said. “He went to the 10am lesson.
“I would get up early but he stopped me from going once. He said ‘why do go to school, come here, sit with me and don’t go to school’.
“I went to school because I knew I would get in trouble. They didn’t do anything to him because he was so special whereas they would have killed me!”
As his fame spread, Ronaldo was forced to change school three times before he earned a pro contract at the tender age of 16.
“All the girls wanted Ronaldo at school and all the boys hated him and wanted to smash him!” said Semedo. “We had to protect him.”
How does Semedo now find all the attention Ronaldo now receives?
He admitted: “It scares me a bit when we leave the house and go out. Everybody wants a piece of him. There are flashes from the photographer and all the fans want to grab him.
“There was one time when I went training with him and he didn’t want to stop and sign the fans autographs or have pictures with them. I asked him ‘why don’t you stop’ and he said ‘if I stop, I don’t go home’.
“After training, I told him to stop and have pictures with everyone just to see how the people are. When he stopped, people started to fight each other, wanting to have a picture with him. It is impossible for Ronaldo to stop.”
n Win The Day is on sale now, priced £14.99, at the Owls’ Megastore.