Cristiano Ronaldo's 'hand trick' skill still needs explaining

After playing at the elite level for close to two full decades, Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo has toned down the frequency of showboating in his game in recent years.

While not as quick to bust out his magnificent array of tricks and skills as he might have been in his younger days, there can be no denying the 37-year-old’s incredible ability to control a ball throughout his career.

You don’t win five Ballon d’Or trophies without being a truly brilliant player – and Ronaldo has proven himself to be one of the very best time and time again down the years.

In his prime, the Portuguese icon seemed to relish pushing the boundaries of the game. Consistently seeking to improve the quality of his first touch, Ronaldo debuted a new trick to aid his control in 2013.

While playing for his country in a friendly against Spain, Ronaldo unveiled his latest innovation. After controlling a dropping ball neatly with his right foot, the superstar put his arms out, as if he was about to catch the ball.

This, though, was never Ronaldo’s intention. His hand movement was simply a tool to help him judge distance – and it worked exactly as intended.

Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘hand trick’ wizardry v Spain in 2013

Once Ronaldo had trialed his latest move in the relatively safe environment of a friendly, it was never going to be long until he gave it a go on the big stage.

In world football, stages don’t come much bigger than El Clasico when Ronaldo – then of Real Madrid – busted the trick out against Los Blancos’ arch-rivals Barcelona.

Leaving Barcelona captain Carles Puyol watching on in awe, Ronaldo used the sleight of hand to help him evade the attentions of Xavi and Dani Alves, before effortlessly laying the ball off.

You can check out the passage of play below.

He might not be all about flashy footwork these days, but his evolution as a player over the years has been fascinating to watch. From mesmerising winger to deadly poacher, you don’t achieve what Ronaldo has in his career without being a true student of the game.

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