Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 44th hat-trick of his storied career in the Madrid derby on Saturday.
The Real Madrid ace pretty much wrapped up his fourth Ballon d’Or award with a consummate display against Atletico.
Ronaldo has vowed to keep playing into his 40s and, on this evidence, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
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He has now scored 374 goals for Madrid, and 565 goals in his entire career.
The term ‘legend’ is thrown about all too easily these days, but it certainly applies to the Portuguese star.
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Of course, it all started at Sporting Lisbon. Then, on August 6, 2003, his career changed forever.
That friendly vs United
Ronaldo starred in a friendly against Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson acted quickly, signing the then 18-year-old after United players spoke of the youngster’s brilliance.
The Portugal international was excellent on his Premier League debut, coming on as a substitute in a 4-0 win over Bolton on August 16. He had to wait nearly three months for his first goal, firing in a free-kick against Portsmouth.
Ronaldo showed flashes of brilliance in his first season, but it became clear that he needed a few years to grow.
Ferdinand: Ronaldo was immature
Speaking to Copa 90, Ronaldo’s ex-teammate, Rio Ferdinand, has explained just why the winger struggled early on, and how his peers used to wind him up by telling him he isn't at the level of United's great number sevens.
“He was an immature, young footballer,” Ferdinand admitted. “And he was doing immature, young habits.
“There comes a time in your career when the penny’s got to drop, where you’ve got to understand decision making at the right poignant moments of the game. When to pass, when to dribble, when to shoot.
“Game-changing moments. Can you be the guy that sits there and takes that responsibility? And the great players do."
Rio and co. used to tease Ronaldo
Ferdinand continued: “When he first came I used to hammer him. Me and a lot of the lads used to say ‘oi Ronaldo, what about…’ and he’d go ‘what… what?’ and we’d go ‘no, the real Ronaldo, the Brazilian one!”
“Like messing about, just to get on his back and make him go ‘what… what?’ because that’s the competitive edge that he’s always got.
“‘Ah, the number sevens at Man United, George Best, Bryan Robson, [David] Beckham’, and he’d be sitting there, and we’re like ‘you’re not at that level yet Ronnie.’”
“You could see it boil him up.”
Check out Copa 90's trip to Lisbon, including Rio Ferdinand’s interview, below.
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