‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: Rio Ferdinand lifts lid on Cristiano Ronaldo’s first spell at Man United

Rio Ferdinand opens up about Cristiano Ronaldo's dedication to improvement during his first spell at Man United

Rio Ferdinand
Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand (Photo: BT Sport)

Rio Ferdinand has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo’s “just relentless” desire to be the best player in the world fuelled his success during his first spell at Manchester United.

The Portuguese superstar joined Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon as an 18-year-old in the summer of 2003 and he quickly established himself as one of the brightest young talents in the Premier League.

Ronaldo went on to win three Premier League titles, two League Cups, one Champions League and one FA Cup during a trophy-laden spell with the Red Devils under Sir Alex Ferguson, before he moved to Real Madrid in a world-record transfer deal in the summer of 2009.

The former Real Madrid star is now back at Old Trafford after having signed a two-year deal with the Red Devils following a transfer from Juventus in the summer. He has started the season strongly, scoring three goals in two Premier League outings so far.

Ferdinand played alongside Ronaldo during his first spell at Old Trafford under Ferguson, and the former Manchester United defender has revealed how the attacker’s dedication to improving himself helped to fuel his success.

“Even when Cristiano first joined us his intelligence to grow and his desire and his obsession to get better was something else,” Ferdinand told William Hill.

“His desire to be the best was just relentless. I’ve never seen anything like it. Just a man possessed to get to the top and he would do anything to get there.

“People never talk about Cristiano’s bravery. He was brave to take risks, by which I mean he comes over to another country and he was brave to remain the person that he was.

“He didn’t change really. Adapted, yes, but he didn’t change his core self and his foundations. He became obsessive with the sport that he chose, which was football, and then he drilled down into details, which involved building a team around himself…

“I went round his house once and I walked in and he had about six or seven people sitting in the front room. I said to him, ‘Cris, who are all these people?’ He said, ‘that’s my personal masseur, my nutritionist, my doctor, my physio, my chef…’

“So, he had all these people and back then no one was doing that in the game. He was a visionary in that sense.

“He knew what it was going to take and if people were laughing at him for doing those extras at one time, by the time he got to be World Player of the Year, they were saying I’m going to copy that.”

Ronaldo will be expecting to start for Manchester United when the Red Devils return to Premier League action on Saturday lunchtime with a home clash against Aston Villa.

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