Quotes on: Cristiano Ronaldo

Team-mates

“Ronaldo can do whatever he wants as a footballer. There are some things he does with the ball that make me touch my head and wonder how he did it.”
— Luis Figo

“Without any disrespect to Eusébio or any other players who have played for the national team, Ronaldo is a symbol for Portugal. Given the goals that he has scored for Portugal and for his clubs, he is a player who is going to leave a long-lasting mark on football.”
— Pepe

“What Ronaldo does you cannot name, it is on another historic level. It is incredible what he has done in only six years, scoring an average of more than 50 goals a season, when it used to be hard for me to reach 20. I hope he keeps scoring many more goals for a long time, and helps the team to win titles.”
— Raul

“The amount of goals and the amount of assists he’s had has been frightening. I haven’t seen anybody take players on, score goals and make goals like he has in this first half of the season, so he rightfully deserves that tag.”
— Paul Scholes (during the 2006-7 season)

“When Ronaldo gets the ball, you can just leave him to it while he beats player after player!”
— Ryan Giggs

“He was a brilliant player. He took a bit of time to settle but then grew into the world’s best player and has got stronger and stronger. He can score every type of goal and is just a phenomenal player.”
— Ryan Giggs

You could tell Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential straight away. After a few months at the club, I told him, ‘One day you will be the best player in the world’. He just smiled. What can you say to that?”
— Mikael Silvestre

“Everyone could see straight away what Ronaldo had, but the work he put into his game was something we’d never seen before. When training finished at United, we’d all go inside to have food. After that, the young lads would go back out and do our jobs like collecting the balls. Ronaldo would still be out there on his own doing skills. He’d stay out to be the best. And he became the best.”
— Kieran Lee
(former Manchester United academy graduate)

“It’s incredibly difficult to stop (Ronaldo), because his counter-attacking ability, the speed, the power, is absolutely phenomenal. You mark him on the ground, he’ll do you in the air; if you stop him going on his left, he’ll go on his right; if you stop him shooting from distance, he’ll dribble into the box; if you think your left-back is playing well against him, he’ll play against your center-back; if your center-back plays well against him, he’ll play against your right-back. He really will pose every single problem you need to pose in a game.”
Gary Neville

“What he did at Manchester United in his last two or three seasons, you’re talking about a phenomenon there.”
— Gary Neville

“He’s a 100 percent among the all-time greats, that’s not even in doubt. If you’re going to put the Zidane’s, Figo’s, the Brazilian Ronaldo (in that bracket), then a 100% Ronaldo would be in that bracket.”
— Gary Neville

“He’s a goal machine who always wants to score more goals.”
— Mesut Ozil

“You can look at all the figures since he’s been at Real Madrid, and he’s proving it every day on the pitch. He’s the most ambitious player I’ve met, with the hunger he has in each game, and the desire to score in each match. He’s sensational, and we’re lucky to have him among us. His winning mentality, his desire, and his ambition to always want more make him a player who’s making history in football.”
— Xabi Alonso

“The guy is sick. I haven’t seen anyone in training sessions like that [working so hard]. I think it’s really difficult to be like that. [ . . . ] Ronaldo is unbelievable. It borders on sickness because he always wants to be the best at his job. He competes in everything.”
— Deco

“There are things I don’t understand in football… how can people criticise Cristiano Ronaldo after all he has done? He is one of the players I admire the most in terms of mentality – I’ve never seen another player so strong in that way. Every year he scores 50 or 60 goals, competing for the Ballon d’Or. I don’t know what more you can ask of him.”
— Ricardo Quaresma

“When he came to Manchester United he was a show pony, he wanted to do skills, he wanted to show how good he was, how he could take people on and take the mickey out of full-backs. Then, he realised it was about end product. To become the best player in the world it was purely about scoring goals or setting up others, and having an impact on games. He’s forced himself to become that guy. He’s been relentless, season upon season raising the bar. That’s greatness.”
Rio Ferdinand

“People talk about great players but he made himself a great player. He was obviously born with a lot of talent but he’s one of the best professionals I’ve been around. He trained hard, he was always one of the first in and last out, honing his skills, working on his step-overs, working on his shooting with both feet. If you were going to build a proto-type of a player, you wouldn’t be far off building him.”
— Rio Ferdinand

“The one player that impressed me the most when I played with him was Cristiano. I was fortunate enough to play with some of the best players we’ve seen in football, but Cristiano had such a unique ability in terms of his athleticism. His dedication to the game was unparalleled. To see that up close, you admire how much he puts into his craft.”
— Owen Hargreaves

“He was incredibly dedicated and competitive in training, he wanted to do everything better than every other player, to learn to do tricks all the time. He was always the best at step overs, but he started doing them with weights strapped to his ankles so that it would be easier in a real game. He would practice even when training finished. He would practice a trick slowly by himself. Then he’d try it in training games. Finally, he’d do it in a real game.”
— Quinton Fortune

“If he saw someone do a new trick he would ask them how they did it. Then he’d teach himself until he was the best. I used to balance the ball on my forehead and roll it onto the crown of my head. Cristiano asked me about it. Three days later he was better than me at it and he actually goaded me to say that he was better!”
— Quinton Fortune

” [ . . . ] he’s the greatest professional I have ever trained with. He never has enough of it. This lad has to be first everywhere in everything. If you play ping-pong with him he can’t stand losing. [ . . . ] He’s driven. They don’t give themselves the right to make mistakes.”
— Patrice Evra

Opponents and other players

“Cristiano Ronaldo’s first United game as a substitute in the season opener against Bolton was undoubtedly the most exciting debut performance I’ve ever seen.”
— George Best

“There have been a few players described as the new George Best over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me.”
— George Best

“Cristiano Ronaldo is better than George Best and Denis Law, who were two brilliant and great players in the history of United.”
— Johan Cruyff

“English fans love spectacular players like Alan Shearer and that is exactly what United have now signed. He has magic in his boots. The first thing you notice about him is that he is incredibly quick and very, very powerful for such a young man. He has great, close control and his technique is excellent. He believes he can do anything with the ball, and that confidence makes him very special indeed.”
— Eusebio

“He does things I have never seen from any other player and it really is marvellous to watch. It takes a great player to grab the bull by the horns and make things happen, but he has done it repeatedly. He has been even better than people here thought he would be and that’s saying something.”
Sir Bobby Charlton

“He’s been outstanding. Ronaldo is up there as one of the five best players in the world. He’s learned that the game is not all about doing fancy tricks, you need to do them at the right time. Cristiano has found the balance of being hugely effective by scoring and creating goals, while still pulling off the skills that entertain the crowd.”
— Peter Schmeichel (2008)

“Everyone wants to play like him and to his level. He has got better and better. Is there anyone better than him? Not at the moment. He scores more goals than the best strikers.”
— Samuel Eto’o (2008)

“I had to face him a lot of times and he’s one of the best players in history. He’s really complete, he knows how to score, assist, shoot free-kicks, penalties. He can do everything.”
— Gerard Pique

“I played against him when he was a young player at Manchester United and you could just tell then that he was something special. He had all sorts of tricks but it wasn’t just for show. He added goals to his game and is now proving himself to be one of the all-time greats.”
— Ray Parlour

“Has great skill, speed and strength and scores goals and creates goals – what more can you say? A great player who will get even better.”
— Michael Owen (2007)

“When Cristiano Ronaldo came to United, he was the one who everyone looked up to. The thing that impressed me the most was the fact he was only young when he came into the side and he wanted to be the best player in the side. He worked hard every single day, you saw him in the gym every single day and the results came on the pitch. He openly wanted to be the best player in the world. You have to have an approach like that – all the best players in the world do. It’s not arrogance or anything like that, it’s the mindset you need to achieve things.”
— Marcus Rashford

Managers

“His speed with the ball, either foot, manipulating it, making decisions in and outside a full-back, playing it in, moving to another position, and done at speed; everything done at great speed. That was the thing that made me sit up.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson

“He is an extremely talented footballer, a two-footed attacker who can play anywhere up front: right, left or through the middle. After we played Sporting last week the lads in the dressing room talked about him constantly, and on the plane back from the game they urged me to sign him – that’s how highly they rated him. He is one of the most exciting young players I’ve ever seen.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson (2003)

“He’s the one player I’d love to pay money to go and see play. I’m sure Ronaldo is already in the ‘best in the world’ bracket. He’s only 21 and he will get even better. Cristiano has not just got quality, he has desire and a desire not to give in.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson (during the 2006-7 season)

“All these great players over the years, the Maradonas, Peles, Cruyffs —  they all took a kick. It didn’t deter them at all. [ . . . ] Cristiano has a similar thing. He had an operation in the summer, which was the result of consistent tackling on him, but he’s naturally brave. I don’t think it ever stopped Maradona, I don’t think it stopped Pele. If you’re them, you don’t think of that when you have a ball at your feet, because that’s what you want. It won’t stop Cristiano and that’s not getting recognised. He’s always wanting to do something with the ball, yet the fans chant, ‘Cheat!’ Well, who is the cheat? Who’s cheating football? Not Cristiano.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson (2008)

“He is easily the best player in the world. His contribution as a goal threat is unbelievable. His stats are incredible. Strikes at goal, attempts on goal, raids into the penalty box, headers. It is all there. Absolutely astounding.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson (2009)

“Maturity brings many things. When I went to see them (Real Madrid) play against Manchester City, some of his decision-making in terms of passing was brilliant. One-touch passing, good crosses. In the six years we had him, you just saw his game grow all the time, and he was a fantastic player. Now you see the complete player. His decision-making, his maturity, his experience, plus all the great skills he has got, they all make him the complete player.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson (2013)

“We’ve had some great players at this club in my 20 years, but he’s up with the best.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson

“[Ronaldo] emerging as one of the best players in the world was not a surprise for me. Having him since he was 17 years old allowed me to follow his progress, and to understand what made him into such a star. There are players born to be greats with their natural talent, and another essential factor — the work ethic necessary to make yourself into a complete player. Cristiano had this determination, this desire to be the best to the level of obsession, along with an amazing discipline at training. This constant desire drove him along in his day-to-day work. Even as a young player at United he was an example for everyone.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson

“What Ronaldo has is simple. He has charisma. He is confident that when he goes into a football game, he will make the difference, and he’s not scared of anybody.”
— Arsene Wenger

“He’s one of the two aliens of planet football.”
— Laurent Blanc

“I remember the first time I saw him play. It was for a Sporting CP youth team. I told my assistant, ‘There goes Van Basten’s son.’ Ronaldo had great technique. He stood out.”
— Jose Mourinho

“He is the best. The best in the world, yes. Probably the best ever. I saw Maradona a couple of times. I never saw Pele. But Cristiano is amazing. This man is the best… Cristiano is a goals machine. He is an incredible player. He is like Zidane, there will never be another Ronaldo.”
— Jose Mourinho

“Cristiano is unique for his talent and professionalism – he is also extraordinarily consistent… [He] is an outstanding professional. He’s committed to the team and the club, he doesn’t talk much, but he is a leader.”
— Carlo Ancelotti

“We would sometimes return from a European game. It could be three in the morning but Ronaldo would be the player who did not go straight home. Instead he would go to the training ground for the ice bath, to help with his recovery from the game.”
— Carlo Ancelotti
(on Ronaldo’s dedication and professionalism)

“He is one of the best players ever, the best forward in the history of football. I have never coached a better player than him.
“There is an offensive position that is not the best for Cristiano Ronaldo – the centre-forward role. Cristiano did not like playing with his back to goal, he prefers to find space on the flanks and attack the opposition goal.
“Cristiano will always be able to find his place, because he has a special talent for getting around the pitch.
“[Under me] the team played a 4-3-3 with Cristiano starting on the left wing, but we soon found out he needed more freedom to cover more of the pitch and be where the action was. We’d often see Cristiano on the two attacking wings and even as a playmaker. Cristiano has to have total freedom so that he is able to believe in what he can do. Giving Cristiano freedom in attack is positive because it makes him even more unpredictable.
“To ensure that his team-mates offer him the best support possible, he has to feel as though he is free at every moment and in any part of the pitch.”
— Carlo Ancelotti

“Cristiano was hungry to score. We could win 5-0 and if he hadn’t scored he would be so angry. I said to him: ‘Cris, enjoy the win, you contributed, you did really well.’ He saw his way of contributing, as ‘If I don’t score goals, I’m not contributing. My job is to score goals for the team’.’”
— Paul Clement

“He’s very professional. Practise, practise, practise. Good trainer. A couple of times we came back from Champions League games at 3am and he’s actually gone for an ice bath at the club. He’d do that really horrible, boring, uncomfortable stuff. He’s very robust, took care of himself, with his diet and nutrition, in the gym before and after training, not lifting heavy weights but the right kind of preventative exercise that keeps him out there on the field. I liked him a lot. He was a gentleman, always very polite.”
— Paul Clement

“The numbers speak for themselves. Someone who scores so many goals deserves a place in history. There is no doubt about that. He deserves his place just like Raul and Alfredo Di Stefano. We are talking about three historic players here. I hope Cristiano will keep scoring, for himself and for the team.”
— Rafa Benitez

“When a player wins one of these trophies it is a big achievement, but to win four at this level means that behind it all is a lot of hard work, perseverance, an eagerness to succeed and, as he has said so himself, other people helping out. These numbers, figures and trophy wins are extremely difficult to achieve and they show that he is a very persistent player who possesses that inner drive to better himself which sets him apart.”
— Rafa Benitez (after Ronaldo won his fourth Golden Shoe award, in 2015)

Cristiano is continuing to set new records. Obviously we’re talking about a player with a lot of talent and quality. We’re talking about a player who is not only smashing records, but who is still hungry for more, full of ambition and capable of improving on his figures even further.”
— Rafa Benitez

“When I coached him at Sporting when he was 18 years old, he was the same as he is today: a natural winner. He has egoism in the good sense of ‘I want to win’, ‘I want to be the best’. That kind of egoism, is it bad? I don’t think so. Cristiano is who he is because that is his way. I have never seen Cristiano upset because the team won but he didn’t score. Cristiano had amazing potential, to the same level as Eusebio, but I told him that he was a bit weak in the air. The following day he was practicing headers over and over again.”
— Fernando Santos

“[He’s] a world star in football like Michael Jordan was in basketball … They have both been blessed with a genius that has never been seen before.”
— Carlos Queiroz

“Cristiano has a special finishing ability. I don’t know if it’s magical, or divine, but it is unique.”
— Carlos Queiroz

“Of all the great players I’ve had the pleasure to work with, the most determined, the most meticulous, most focused, day after day in his work, the most committed to attain certain goals, is without doubt Cristiano.”
— Carlos Queiroz

“He has a special gift to be in the right place at the right time, and to use his ability to make the right decision. That is not something all of the players in the world can do. Even among the best, only some have that special gift.”
— Carlos Queiroz

“He has a starting level that is not comparable to anything else. His genetics, his talent in the specific components regarding football, he possesses a harmony that is exceptional, which makes him a unique player.”
— Carlos Queiroz

“Cristiano Ronaldo (the best player ever) is the perfect machine.”
— Nuno Santo

“He’s a gift from heaven, he is truly a gift from heaven. Whatever he touches turns to gold.”
— Alan Parry (BBC Sports and Sky Sports commentator)

“He has again shown us that he’s a uniquely exceptional footballer. [ . . . ] He’s the only player to have won four Golden Shoes. We’re proud to have Cristiano and his passion in our team. Without a doubt, he is a club legend. His statistics are helping him to write his name into club folklore. This is what Cristiano came to Real Madrid for, to break every record and win everything. Cristiano still wants to achieve so much more. He’s an outstanding talent with an amazing work ethic.”
— Florentino Perez

“There is something special about him. Despite winning so many trophies, he always wants more and never gets complacent.”
— Florentino Perez

It is clear that Ronaldo made the most of his natural talent by committing himself to improve every day through constant hard work in training. Who better to speak about his approach to training than Mike Clegg, Manchester United’s Power Development Coach between 2001 and 2011, the man who saw Ronaldo transform from a wiry, lightweight 18-year-old to one of the most complete physical specimens in the history of sport.

“From the day he walked through the door at Carrington to the day he left, Cristiano Ronaldo was the greatest trainer I ever worked with. He took on a new level of total dedication to his training because he wanted to be the best footballer in the world. He filled his time with football, his whole life was dedicated to it. He even had his own cook so that he was eating well all the time, he made sure he bought a house with a swimming pool so that he could do more training.
Some players over-do it. I’ve seen players train themselves into the ground because of insufficient knowledge, but Ronaldo was more intelligent than that. He’d train hard, but he’d listen to the specialists around him, the coaches, the manager, the other players like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He took their advice in pursuit of personal excellence.
“Ronaldo would arrive early so he could prepare properly. He’d be in the gym with me doing core work, then he’d do activation, then his actual football training. Training done, that was the point at which most footballers went home. Cristiano would come back into the gym and do some power work for his legs. Then he would go home, eat the right food, swim, sleep, where I’m sure he dreamed about football, and come back in the next morning. He did that for five or six years and, knitted together, that made him become the player who was sold for £80 million.
“They say you need to put 10,000 hours in before you can become great at something, be it painting or playing the guitar. Ronaldo did that – and more. He arrived at 18, the perfect time. Some players at that age go through a funny phase where they doubt themselves or think they are better than what they are. They curtail training. Had they done what Ronaldo did, they could have been far better. Some of the other United players are excellent trainers, but they didn’t quite do as much as Ronaldo. He was a really nice person too.” — Mike Clegg

Real Madrid's Ronaldo holds his Ballon d'Or trophy to the crowd after winning the FIFA World Player of the Year 2013 award, before their Spanish first division soccer match against Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium

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