Cristiano Ronaldo has become one of the best players in the world because of his hard work, according to former Real Madrid team-mate Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Dutch striker praised the 27-year-old forward for his 'never say die' attitude, and commitment to improving his game, which has delivered plenty of reward.

Van Nistelrooy worked closely with Ronaldo during spells at Manchester United from 2003 to 2006, and again at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009/10, and said that there are a number of misconceptions regarding the prolific Portuguese star.

"I never saw him as an arrogant guy. He was always open to advice and not arrogant at all. He was a great guy in the dressing room. He was really vain, but always in a good mood and making jokes," he told Algemeen Dagblad.

"I talked to him like attackers talk among each other. A lot of his individual actions were not necessary and he lacked efficiency. He still had a lot of room for improvement.

"He worked incredibly hard to become a better player, though. And that's clearly paid off. He really is crazy about the game and always wanted to become the perfect player."

Ronaldo has already scored nine goals in as many official games for Real this season, and has also been shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award, with the winner set to be announced in January.

"He's had to work hard to get where he is now," added Van Nistelrooy. "He put in a lot of extra hours after training. And look at where it's got him. He is big, strong, has pace and scores tons of goals. He is a very committed professional."

The 36-year-old finally hung up his boots in May after another season playing in La Liga with Malaga. He retires as the second-highest goalscorer in Champions League history with 60 goals, having finished as top-scorer in the competition three times, as well as claiming the Golden Boot in three different European domestic leagues.

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