Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed that he always knew that his old team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo would become a superstar.
With Ronaldo bidding for an incredible fifth Champions League trophy tonight against Liverpool, Ferdinand has been reminiscing about how him and his team-mates pleaded with Sir Alex Ferguson to sign a young Cristiano after he had ripped them to shreds during a pre season friendly in Portugal.
“I first saw him up close when I was playing for Manchester United in a pre-season friendly to mark the opening of Sporting Lisbon’s new stadium in 2003,” Ferdinand says in the Sun.
“It was plain that this was a potential superstar. An 18-year-old Ronaldo ran the show as we lost 3-1.
“We were on the bus for ages afterwards waiting for chief executive David Gill and the boss Alex Ferguson.
“We were just willing them to sign Ronaldo. Within a week he was our player.
“From the very start in training you could see he was supremely talented.
“He had all the skills but what really stood out was his work ethic. This was no show pony.
“He wanted to be out there afterwards with the ball improving, learning to use both feet.
“In the mornings he was in the gym before training.
“He was the first player I ever came across with the big entourage like his own chef, dietician and doctor.
“It might have raised a few questions if he wasn’t as good as he was.
“But he was producing the goods and suddenly we were thinking: ‘Maybe it works.’”
Ronaldo and Ferdinand played together at Old Trafford from 2003-2009, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League.
Ronaldo moved to his current club Real Madrid for a then World Record £80 million in 2009, and he has incredibly gone on to score over 450 goals for the Spanish giants.