- Insider spoke to Mikaël Silvestre, who played with Ronaldo during his first spell at United.
- Silvestre said teammates used to kick Ronaldo in training when he was trying too many tricks.
- “If you ask him, he will tell you that there was no mercy,” Silvestre said.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s teammates from his first spell at Manchester United used to kick him in training when he was trying too many skills.
That’s according to the former United defender and Mikaël Silvestre, who told Insider that Ronaldo was forced to “learn the hard way” when he first arrived at Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon as a teenager in 2003.
“He learned something that, you know, in England, you can’t be dribbling the same player twice,” Silvestre, who made 361 appearances for United between 1999 and 2008, said of Ronaldo.
“Once you once you pass your opponent, don’t try to beat him another time, just deliver the ball into the box. So he learned the hard way. He was told off a few times.”
The French defender added that, to deal with Ronaldo’s over-dribbling in training, he and other United players would kick the Portuguese player to take him down a peg or two.
“That helped him for sure,” he said. “If you ask him, he will tell you that there was no mercy. You know, you didn’t want to be embarrassed, so there were no favors. We really trained like we played at United.”
Ronaldo returned to United this summer, 13 years after he first left the club to join Real Madrid in 2008.
Since making the move back to Old Trafford, he has been the club’s star player, scoring 10 goals in just 14 matches, including six in the Champions League.
Despite his goal scoring exploits, however, United has struggled, with the club currently sitting eighth in the Premier League table and having won only one of its last six top flight matches – which ultimately saw manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked last week.
Nevertheless, Silvestre hailed Ronaldo’s performances this season.
“There were some doubts from people about his capacity to deliver,” he said. “But when you look at what he has achieved since leaving United, going to Madrid, going to Juventus, he’s scored more goals.
“I wouldn’t say he reinvents himself, but he always finds a way to perform and deliver.
“He’s been a great asset for United since he joined and I hope players follow his lead and his commitment to perform because he’s a role model. He’s a machine.”
Silvestre spoke to Insider as part of the launch of his talent management company, Talent Lyfe, an innovative agency to represent elite athletes and young talent across all professional sports.