A former Manchester United coach, Tony Coton, revealed how Alex Ferguson tried, to toughen up Cristiano Ronaldo as the legendary coach believed the Portuguese's tendency to fall to the ground would prevent him from making it to the very top.
The "toughening up" included allowing players to kick Ronaldo and urging the other coaches to turn a blind eye to the likes of Irish hard-man midfielder, Roy Keane, dishing out some "tough love".
“Ferguson showed what he thought of this kid Ronaldo by handing him the club’s iconic number seven shirt when he signed him in 2003," explains Tony Coton, the former United coach, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Ronaldo's weaknesses ironed out of his game
“But just as important was the gaffer’s ability to recognise his weaknesses.
“One flaw was his habit of falling to the floor like a rag doll every time he lost a tackle.
“Sir Alex embarked on a mission to toughen him up. Members of the coaching staff were encouraged to turn a blind eye if they saw Ronaldo being fouled in practise matches and small-sided games.”
“These games were intense and no prisoners were taken,” added Coton. “Poor Ronaldo didn’t know what hit him as team-mates he’d been sharing a joke with him gave him the kind of treatment that was no laughing matter.
Ronaldo's Portuguese swear words did no use
“When a free-kick was not forthcoming, he’d throw his hands up in outrage and sit on the turf muttering Portuguese curses while the game continued around him.
“Toughened pros like Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand would lambast him for being soft.
“It was tough love and slowly but surely, the message began to seep into our winger’s consciousness.”