Rio Ferdinand has said that Cristiano Ronaldo was a “show pony” when he arrived at Manchester United in 2003.
Ferdinand, who played with Ronaldo at Old Trafford throughout the Portugal star’s six-year spell, has now labelled Ronaldo as “great”, but acknowledged he has developed greatly since his early days at United.
Ronaldo’s double in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Malmo on Wednesday night took him to 501 career goals and saw him draw level with Raul’s club total of 323 goals.
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) September 30, 2015
The 30-year-old opened the scoring when he latched on to Isco’s pass and clipped the ball home and added a second late on with a simple finish after he was set up by substitute Lucas Vazquez.
Ferdinand noted Ronaldo’s growth since arriving at United as a teenager, when he tried to take on the world with the ball at his feet.
“When he came to Manchester United he was a show pony, he wanted to do skills, he wanted to show how good he was,” the ex-England defender told BT Sport. “Then, he realised it was about end product.
“To become the best player in the world it was purely about scoring goals or setting up others, and having an impact on games.
“He’s forced himself to become that guy. He’s been relentless, season upon season raising that bar.
“That’s greatness right there.”
Ronaldo paid tribute to the Swedish side after his double in Malmo.
“To equal this record for Real Madrid is great. I am glad to come to Sweden and score again,” Ronaldo said. “The most important thing is to win. It was a tough game, Malmo were difficult, but we controlled the game and scored two goals so we are happy.”