GARY NEVILLE

"It was Manchester United who made Ronaldo the man he is"

Gary Neville says Ronaldo was a long way off being the best player in the world when he arrived at Old Trafford, but left Manchester United "from another planet"

"It was Manchester United who made Ronaldo the man he is"
REUTERS

In an interview with AS columnist Guillem Balague for talkSPORT, Gary Neville has said that it was Manchester United who made Cristiano Ronaldo into the superstar he is today.

Former United right-back Neville talked in detail about Ronaldo’s arrival at the club in 2003 when he was just 18 and how the Portuguese forward was a long way off being anywhere near the best player in the world at the time.

“He didn’t arrive at Manchester United as someone who was setting the tone for everybody else. 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,” said Neville.

"Cristiano was butchered and battered at United"

“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.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoring the first goal with team mate Gary Neville during the Barclays Premiership match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on October 1 2006

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.”

"He was from another planet"

From then on, Neville recalls how Ronaldo grew into a player capable of winning games all by himself. “For two years, 2007-08 and 2008-09, I cannot believe Manchester United fans could ever have seen anything like that. He was just out of this world, like he was from another planet.”

After winning the Champions League and two Premier Leagues with Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo would later be sold to Real Madrid in 2009 for a then world record £80m.