‘Butchered & bat­tered’

> Tough dress­ing room made Ron­aldo a man, says former cap­tain Neville <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

CRIS­TIANO RON­ALDO was “butchered and bat­tered” in the Manch­ester United chang­ing room to make him a man, ac­cord­ing to former cap­tain Gary Neville.

The Real Madrid su­per­star ar­rived at Old Traf­ford in 2003 as a scrawny 18-year-old, hav­ing im­pressed United’s de­fend­ers dur­ing a pre-sea­son friendly against Sport­ing Lis­bon, lead­ing for them to beg Sir Alex Fer­gu­son to sign him.

How­ever, by the time Ron­aldo left for the Bern­abeu six years later for a then-world record £80 mil­lion (RM408m), he was con­sid­ered the best player in the world.

And Neville be­lieves that it was the Old Traf­ford dress­ing room which built him into the player he is to­day, as the club coached his petu­lance out of him and re­placed it with ma­tu­rity.

“He didn’t ar­rive at Manch­ester United as some­one who was set­ting the tone for ev­ery­body else. It wasn’t a case of he came in and all of a sud­den ev­ery­one else upped their game, that’s not how it was,” Neville told talkSPORT.

“He be­came that out of what was in that dress­ing room. Cris­tiano was butchered and bat­tered for two or three years at Manch­ester United and he has said it made him a man.

“He was set­ting the stan­dards when he left, and he be­came some­one who would come in and do half an hour be­fore train­ing and an hour af­ter train­ing, but there had been 20 play­ers per sea­son for 15 years do­ing that ev­ery day.

“The club, and Sir Alex (Fer­gu­son), and the play­ers all set the tone for each other. If you look at his per­for­mances in the first two or three years, his ma­tu­rity, his de­ci­sion mak­ing, his phys­i­cal­ity, his petu­lance, they were all smoothed out over a pe­riod of three or four years at the club.”

Ron­aldo has scored 261 goals in 240 games for Real Madrid since leav­ing the Red Devils but Neville said he was show­ing he could reach that level dur­ing his last two sea­sons at the club.

His two-sea­son spell from 2007 to 2009 saw Ron­aldo score 68 goals in 102 games for United and win back-to-back Pre­mier League ti­tles, reach two Cham­pi­ons League fi­nals (win­ning one) and win­ning his first Bal­lon d’Or.

“For two years, 2007-08 and 2008-09, I can­not be­lieve Manch­ester United fans could ever have seen any­thing like that,” Neville added.

“He was just out of this world, like he was from an­other planet.” – The In­de­pen­dent

Por­tu­gal’s for­ward Cris­tiano Ron­aldo vies with Faroe Is­lands’ mid­fielder Solvi Vatnhamar (left) and de­fender Atli Gregerson dur­ing yes­ter­day’s World Cup 2018 qual­i­fi­ca­tion match in Tor­shavn. Por­tu­gal won 6-0. –

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