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Former coach reveals how Ronaldo’s genius was formed at Man United

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
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Former Manchester United coach Mick Clegg revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo used his spell at the club to become ‘the best player in the world’.

Mick Clegg claims that a young Cristiano Ronaldo used Manchester United ‘as an apprenticeship’ and told him that he would become ‘the best player in the world’ right from the start.

An 18-year-old Ronaldo joined United in 2003 from Sporting CP and soon set about honing his skills under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson and his staff, which included power development coach Clegg.

The Englishman, who worked at Old Trafford between 2000 and 2011, helped transform CR7 from a skinny teenager into a formidable athlete and all-time great.

“My office was in the gym, so I was always available for anyone whenever they wanted to talk,” said Clegg in a BBC documentary ‘Cristiano Ronaldo: Impossible to Ignore’.

“It’s listening to the player and finding out what they need in their minds that is key.

“I’d seen him play over in Portugal. I’m back in Carrington in my chair in the gym, and this young lad turns up early in the morning. He comes in and says ‘I’ve heard about you and I know you do a lot of work individually with the players.’

“Then he said ‘I’m going to be the best player in the world.’”

Clegg added: “The thing about Cristiano at United is that I know he came to use United as an apprenticeship.

“I remember watching him in matches and he would make a mistake, or get caught, he’d fall down and then you’d have the crowd shouting at him, players shouting at him. But it didn’t bother him.

“Then he would know, ‘This is the bit I need to work on’, and he would go and work on it.”

‘Ronaldo is an absolute genius’

The Portuguese ace managed 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for United. He left the club in 2009 with nine trophies under his belt, including three Premier League titles and the Champions League, in a then-world-record transfer to Real Madrid.

Ronaldo has since continued his goal and trophy-laden career in Spain and Italy, breaking many records in the process.

Despite turning 36 years of age in February, the forward’s appetite for success still burns brightly. He continues to perform at a high level and won a first Golden Boot in Serie A this season.

Clegg continued: “We hear these things when people say he’s vain or big-headed. He’s not big-headed at all. He was a really nice lad to be around the place.

“Seeing the work rate, it was above everyone else.

“I think he’s got big plans for the rest of his life. It’s not just about playing football.

“He’s an absolute genius.”