FIFPRO world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo claims to have learned from his selfish ways and no longer tries to beat opponents just for the sake of it.
Five years after his arrival from Sporting Lisbon as a raw teenager, Ronaldo has been confirmed as the best player on the planet.
Although a host of awards are expected to come his way over the next few months, the FIFPro prize is particularly significant because it is the first to recognise his extraordinary achievements last season when he scored 42 goals.
Voted for by players from over 40 countries, it emphasises the widespread appeal of Ronaldo’s extraordinary rise and sees him follow in the footsteps of past winners Ronaldinho and Kaka.
Ronaldo has already had enough faith in his ability to believe he could become world number one. But he accepts in his early days he spent too much time playing to the gallery and not enough on making sure United benefited from his rare talent.
“I have always played the way I do. It is natural,” he said.
“If you want to be good, you have to practice, not just in training but games as well. That is my style of football. But I am different now compared to five years ago. Then I was dribbling but not doing anything for the team. Now I have more experience and I feel more mature. I do things for the team. So, sometimes I dribble, sometimes I don’t.”
Few would argue against his current status but with the adulation comes attention and scrutiny.
Ronaldo now feels the Real Madrid saga is not worth discussing. However, he is happy to confirm Alex Ferguson as the major factor behind his decision to stay and a continuing influence on his career.
“Sir Alex has been a big inspiration to me,” he said.
“He believed in me enough to buy me. I have learned so many things from him and I am continuing to learn because he is a great manager. Of course, he was the main factor in keeping me here.
“But what happened in the summer is finished.
“Now my head is on the club.
“My focus is solely on playing well for Manchester United and winning the Premier League and Champions League again.”
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