Van der Sar saw both players develop into stars at United .

Edwin van der Sar reveals how Cristiano Ronaldo became better than Wayne Rooney

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Football News

Sir Alex Ferguson unearthed two gems when he brought Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney to Manchester United.

The Red Devils were incredibly fortunate to have two youngsters of such talent when the pair arrived in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Rooney made a huge impact immediately following his move from Everton, scoring a debut hat-trick in the Champions League against Fenerbahce.

Little did we know then, of course, that the teenager would go on to become the club's all-time leading goalscorer and surpass the great Bobby Charlton.

The fact that he was English made him all the more exciting to watch and probably added to the hype surrounding him.

However, it quickly became clear that Ronaldo was pretty special too.

Nowadays, it seems laughable that the four-time Ballon d'Or winner was ever in the same boat as Rooney. The latter's stock has declined considerably over the past few years, but there was a time when he looked genuinely world-class.

The question was put to their former team-mate Edwin van der Sar of why it was CR7, and not the striker-turned-midfielder, who would go on to become arguably the best in the world.

The goalkeeper's answer confirms what we all suspected - that it's the Real Madrid star's work ethic that sets him apart.

Rooney vs Ronaldo 

"They both worked incredibly hard on the pitch, but Cristiano took it up a level," the Dutchman told the November issue of FourFourTwo, quoted via the Mirror.

"Off the field, Ronaldo was also focusing on everything extensively, such as resting up properly and strengthening his body."

Manchester United v Inter Milan - UEFA Champions League

Perhaps that's unsurprising given Rooney's recent off-field problems. Aside from his notorious fitness regime, though, Ronaldo was also putting in extra yards on the training ground.

"After training sessions he would often work on his free-kicks and then come to me and say: "Edwin, can you go in goal?" Van der sar added.

"I'd say I was old so he would be better off using one of the youth-team keepers, but he would insist I went in goal as he wanted to score past me.

"I would tease him a lot and say things like: "You won't score against me, Ronnie, you know it. Ask the reserve goalie, that's better for your confidence.

"He'd get agitated and reply: "No, no. You've got to go in goal!"

Was Rooney world-class in his day? Have your say in the comments. 

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