The former Manchester United player says the Madrid ace was “obsessed with being the best” early in his career
Cristiano Ronaldo is not the most naturally talented player on the planet, but hard work and dedication have elevated him to his “deserved” status as one of the world’s best, according to former Manchester United midfielder Quinton Fortune.
Ronaldo became the first player to score 100 Champions League goals with a hat-trick in the second leg of Real Madrid’s quarter-final victory over Bayern Munich this week and on Sunday will hope to guide his side to Clasico glory against Barcelona.
The fixture will once again pit Ronaldo against Lionel Messi – his biggest rival for the ‘best in the world’ mantle, with the pair having shared nine Ballons d’Or since 2008.
Messi is widely considered to be the more naturally gifted of the two and it is a viewpoint shared by Fortune, who was at Old Trafford when Ronaldo arrived from Portugal in 2003.
“Ronaldo was obsessed with being the best at everything and he deserves everything he’s achieving now,” Fortune told Omnisport.
“I was fortunate to play with him and see how obsessed this guy is with working hard in training and being so disciplined in how he wanted his body to be.
“He had the desire to win and his talent was unbelievable. You get a lot of talented players who don’t have the desire to do the work, but Ronaldo put in the work.
“A wonderful player. To have the combination of talent and desire, I think his desire probably got him to where he is today.
“He’s got the ability but I’ve never seen anything like it, because every single day he came into training he was doing extra. Shooting, dribbling, step overs, going to the gym, wanting to be stronger, quicker. Just practice, wanting to be better every single day.
“He deserves everything. I’m not surprised he’s reached that level and he’ll want to go even further now because that’s the kind of person he is.”
Put to him that there were possibly more naturally talented players who had not achieved Ronaldo’s level of success due to an inferior work rate, Fortune responded: “One hundred per cent.
“I’d love to ask him where he got that unbelievable belief and self-confidence from, because for a young player to walk into Manchester United and tell everyone that he’s the best, it takes a lot of self-belief.
“I think that sets him apart form everyone else.
“To walk into the changing room with Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and all these great players and to be able to look around and go ‘yeah, I’m the best’, it’s just amazing.”