While Cristiano Ronaldo was a supremely talented youngster when he arrived at Manchester United, it did take a couple of years before things really clicked for him at Old Trafford.
During his early days in England he had a reputation as a flair player, somebody who could produce some moments of magic but lacked consistency. His propensity to go down easy also didn't help in this regard.
Slowly, this began to change. Ronaldo would establish himself as a goalscoring force and win his first Ballon d'Or while still a United player. We all know the career he would go on to have after leaving the club.
The culture at Manchester United certainly had a role to play in moulding his mindset. Speaking on BT Sport last night, Rio Ferdinand said the Portuguese forward always had something special about him. He also believes that the challenges set by his teammates played a part, with one confrontation with Ruud van Nistelrooy the perfect example.
“You can’t look any further than Cristiano Ronaldo.”
“I don’t know a stronger, more determined, obsessed player that I’ve shared a changing room with.”@rioferdy5 on why CR7 made the biggest influence at Man Utd during his time at the club ✨#PLTonight pic.twitter.com/Xq6RJGHAe0
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 28, 2021
He used to get snapped in training, people would kick the hell out of him in training.
I remember one time, it was a good for him but he didn't take it too well. Ruud van Nistelrooy was the man at Manchester United at the time when (Ronaldo) came, he scored all the goals.
Ronaldo had the ball out wide and was doing tricks, Ruud was making runs in the box and the ball wouldn't come in. As a striker, if the ball doesn't come in when you make a run, you've got to make four runs before you get it. It's frustrating.
Ruud went crazy, screaming 'he should be in the circus, he shouldn't be on the pitch'. Ruud walked in off the training pitch. Ronaldo got angry and upset and said 'why is he talking about me like that, it's out of order'. He had something in there...
Some kids at that age would have gone under and thought 'I'm just going to pass it or get rid of it', or it's 'forget what he's saying, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing'...
With Cristiano the intelligence was a key factor. Over time, he was like 'he might be right'. It wasn't overnight, but then it was about statistics, goals, and 'what's going to make me the best player in the world'.
It's fair to say it worked out for him in the end.