Manchester United legend and former Cristiano Ronaldo team-mate Gary Neville says the Portuguese star was “butchered and battered” for three years at Manchester United before he began to break new ground at the Theatre of Dreams.
Ronaldo joined Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United from Sporting CP in 2003 and would later develop into one of the finest players of the game at United where he won his first World Footballer of the year award before departing for Real Madrid in a big money move in 2009.
And Neville who was already 12 years old at the club before Ronaldo’s arrival says United players did not make things easy for the prolific striker in his first few years at the club, insisting that time has moulded Ronaldo into the player he is become.
“Cristiano was butchered and battered for two or three years at Manchester United and he has said it made him a man,” Neville told talkSPORT.
“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. He became that out of what was in that dressing room.
“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.
“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.
“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.”