Cristiano Ronaldo did not play in Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield where fans of both sides showed their support for the striker following the death of his newborn son.
The forward announced the tragic news on social media on Monday in a joint message with his partner Georgina Rodriguez, prompting a huge number of messages of support from across the footballing world and beyond.
Manchester United confirmed Ronaldo’s absence, saying on manutd.com: “Family is more important than everything and Ronaldo is supporting his loved ones at this immensely difficult time.
“As such, we can confirm that he will not feature in the match against Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday evening and we underline the family’s request for privacy.
“Cristiano, we are all thinking of you and sending strength to the family.”
A fan-led minute’s applause was held in the seventh minute of Tuesday’s game in support of Ronaldo and his family.
A further statement on United’s website said the gesture had “initially been suggested by fans of the Merseyside team”, while a request from Ralf Rangnick’s visiting squad to wear black armbands was accepted and “reciprocated by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side”.
Ronaldo, who has four older children, announced last October that he and Rodriguez were expecting twins. Their baby girl survived.
The couple said on Monday: “It is with our deepest sadness we have to announce that our baby boy has passed away.
“It is the greatest pain that any parents can feel.
“Only the birth of our baby girl gives us the strength to live this moment with some hope and happiness.
“We would like to thank the doctors and nurses for all their expert care and support.
“We are all devastated at this loss and we kindly ask for privacy at this very difficult time.
“Our baby boy, you are our angel. We will always love you.”
A message on United’s Twitter account on Monday evening read: “Your pain is our pain, Cristiano.
Sending love and strength to you and the family at this time.”
The 37-year-old’s United team-mate Marcus Rashford tweeted: “Thoughts are with you and Georgina brother. I’m so sorry.”
Ronaldo’s former club Real Madrid said in a statement: “Real Madrid, its president and board of directors are deeply saddened by the passing of one of the children that our dear Cristiano Ronaldo and his partner, Georgina Rodriguez, were expecting.
“Real Madrid shares in the family’s pain and wishes to send them all of our warmth.”
Manchester City, Liverpool, Leeds and the Premier League were among many others sending the couple messages of condolence on Twitter.