Cristiano Ronaldo has hailed former Manchester United teammate Gary Neville, describing him as the most professional player he has ever seen.
The Real Madrid superstar spent six successful years at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009 and whilst there he matured under the watchful eye of some of the best players the United faithful cheered on under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Neville the most professional
The likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Neville were prominent dressing rooms figures by the time Ronaldo made his switch to England from Sporting Lisbon. He’s now revealed to what extent the fabled ‘Class of ‘92’ graduates helped his development as a professional.
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"Manchester United was a huge education for me," said Ronaldo, as relayed by the Daily Mail.
"(Being at United) taught me to train hard all the time. To eat properly, sleep good, recovery sessions, everything. You have to dedicate yourself 100 per cent.
"There were guys who always arrived for training one hour early. Paul Scholes and Gary Neville were incredible example. Neville was the most professional player I saw.
"This is why these guys played in the top level for 10 years. People like Giggsy (Ryan Giggs). I learnt from them. I would go to training early, too. I would do exercise, strength, abdominals, many things. That example from the older players, I took it."
There can be no questioning the fact that Ronaldo became a far better player at Old Trafford than he might have done elsewhere.
Ronaldo at United
The Portuguese sensation has spoken many times on the positive impact Ferguson had on his career, but perhaps the lessons learned from his illustrious teammates were ones that aren’t given their due credit.
After all, Ronaldo’s years coincided with a rich period in Ferguson’s tenure regarding the blend between young flair - the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ronaldo himself - and experienced mettle - see Neville, Giggs, Scholes and others such as Edwin van der Sar.
Ronaldo the mentor
As with all things the duties have come full circle now, with Ronaldo quickly approaching the twilight years of his career. Now 30, the Real forward is in turn doing his bit to provide an example for young players to follow.
Based on his goals-to-games ratio and all-round commitment to the sport, there’s few better to be doing so.
United fans, do you miss Ronaldo? Is there any way you can ever see him returning? Let us know in the comments box below.