Few people know Cristiano Ronaldo better than Paul Clement. The Derby County manager spent two seasons as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant at Real Madrid, in which time he got an insight into one of the game's greatest figures.
From the outside, Ronaldo is dressed as a self-obsessed egomaniac who would take any and every individual award over a La Liga winner's medal any day of the week. HIs ultimate goal, some claim, is to win more Ballon d'Or awards than Leo Messi.
Clement, of course, was still present at the Bernabeu when Ronaldo won the third of his Golden Balls in January 2015, capped with the infamous "Si!" at the very snazzy Ballon d'Or gala.
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Many of us assume that winning the Ballon d'Or is all Ronaldo ever talks about, but, according to Clement, the truth is actually quite the contrary. During his two years in the Spanish capital, he never heard the Portuguese mention the award once.
Asked about Ronaldo apparent obsession, Clement told The Times: “I didn’t get that [impression]. I never heard him speaking about it. He’s very professional. Practice, practice, practice. Good trainer."
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While that myth has been busted, Clement did, at least, confirm another. There is widespread belief that, should Real Madrid win 5-0, Ronaldo will only be happy if he has scored. Should he fail, he will wander back to the dressing room in a sulk. Clement says he attempted to knock that kind of thinking out of Ronaldo's mind but failed.
“Cristiano was hungry to score,” he continued. “We could win 5-0 and if he hadn’t scored he would be so angry. I said to him: ‘Cris, enjoy the win, you contributed, you did really well.’ He saw his way of contributing, as ‘If I don’t score goals, I’m not contributing. My job is to score goals for the team’."
Why he's never injured
Finally, Clement confirmed what we all know to be true: Ronaldo takes complete care of his body and overcomes tremendous obstacles to do so. That's why he's got an incredible physique and that's why he's hardly ever injured.
He said: “A couple of times we came back from Champions League games at 3am and he’s actually gone for an ice bath at the club.
"He’d do that really horrible, boring, uncomfortable stuff. He’s very robust, took care of himself, with his diet and nutrition, in the gym before and after training, not lifting heavy weights but the right kind of preventative exercise that keeps him out there on the field. I liked him a lot. He was a gentleman, always very polite.”
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