The pursuit of perfection has been the hallmark of Cristiano Ronaldo's career in football and perhaps nowhere more than during his early career at Manchester United. Edwin van der Sar experienced at first hand, the young Portuguese player's insatiable hunger to keep improving his game during their time together at United. The former goalkeeper spoke about Cristiano's obsession in an interview in next month's Four Four Two magazine, in which he talks about how the teenage Cristiano would take special care of even the smallest details to ensure his performance levels were always optimum.
Cristiano and Van der Sar, overtime on the training pitch
"Off the field, Cristiano was also focusing on everything extensively, such as resting up properly and strengthening his body", Van der Sar said, adding that the young player would regularly ask him to stay behind after training to put in overtime practicing free-kicks.
"After training sessions he would often work on his free-kicks and he would come to me and say: 'Edwin, can you go in goal?' I'd say I was old so he would be better off using one of the youth team keepers, but he would insist as he wanted to score past me", the Dutch keeper recalled. "I would tease him a lot and say things like: 'You're not going to score against me, Ronnie, you know it'. He'd get very agitated and reply: 'No, no. You have to go in goal!'". It was all worthwhile though - it was those extra, afterhours sessions which turned Cristiano into one of the best free-kick takers in the game. Van der Sar added: "Cristiano is a really good guy and the common perception of him is not a true reflection of his personality".