Phil Neville reveals the toughening up process the Portuguese ace endured.
When Cristiano Ronaldo first came onto the scene at Manchester United in 2003, the forward was criticised for too many step-overs and not enough end product.
However, after three years at the club something changed in the Portugal international’s attitude and the attacker went from a flashy luxury to a deadly goal-scorer.
Ronaldo’s then world record £80m transfer to Real Madrid in 2009 marked an extraordinary six years for the 28-year-old, that started with the winger being a precocious talent and ended with the Portuguese star becoming arguably the greatest player on the planet.
Former United team-mate Phil Neville has revealed that notoriously tough and no-nonsense Red Devils players such as Nicky Butt and Roy Keane gave the star a tough time.
“The boys were hard on him for his diving and it was putting us under pressure,” Neville told ITV.
“I’d say the first 12 months there was a massive toughening up process. In training at the time you had Keane, Butt, Scholes, and every time he got the ball they kicked him and they kicked him – not just once, they kicked him every day, every week, all season.”
This may seem harsh but it was part of the maturing process that has transformed Ronaldo into the goal-scoring machine we see today.
Since arriving at Los Blancos the forward has scored a quite incredible 210 goals in 207 appearances in all competitions.
It’s likely that when Ronaldo eventually hangs up his boots, the attacker will be remembered as one of the best to ever grace a football field.
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