Because he’s been so consistently brilliant for the best part of 10 years now, it’s easy to forget how frustrating a player Cristiano Ronaldo was when he first arrived at Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2003.
The Portuguese starlet had all the talent in the world but would often make the wrong decisions during matches.
He would hold onto the ball too long, try to beat too many players, and annoy teammates, fans and pundits alike with his penchant for diving.
Furthermore, it took Ronaldo several seasons before he was delivering goals and assists on a regular basis.
The forward scored six goals in his first campaign with the Red Devils, followed by nine and then 12 in the next two seasons.
It was only in his fourth campaign when he netted more than 20 goals in all competitions for the first time.
Gary Neville explains Ronaldo's transformation
One man who played alongside Ronaldo throughout the Portuguese star’s six-year tenure at Old Trafford was the former United captain Gary Neville.
Speaking on talkSPORT this week, the Sky Sports pundit revealed how the United dressing room helped transform Ronaldo into one of the world’s best players.
“He didn’t arrive at Manchester United as someone who was setting the tone for everybody else,” Neville commented, per The Sun. “It wasn’t a case of he came in and all of a sudden everyone else upped their game, that’s not how it was.
“He became that out of what was in that dressing room. Cristiano was butchered and battered for two or three years at Manchester United and he has said it made him a man.
“He was setting the standards when he left, and he became someone who would come in and do half an hour before training and an hour after training, but there had been 20 players per season for 15 years doing that every day.
“The club, and Sir Alex [Ferguson], and the players all set the tone for each other.
“If you look at his performances in the first two or three years — his maturity, his decision making, his physicality, his petulance, they were all smoothed out over a period of three or four years at the club.”
Neville: Ronaldo played like he was from another planet
Neville also believes that between 2007 and 2009, Ronaldo was producing performances the likes of which United fans had never seen before.
“For two years, 2007-08 and 2008-09, I cannot believe Manchester United fans could ever have seen anything like that,” the former Valencia head coach added.
“He was just out of this world, like he was from another planet.”
Is the Manchester United dressing room responsible for turning Cristiano Ronaldo into a superstar? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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