Last week, Cristiano Ronaldo invited former teammate Rio Ferdinand to his home in Madrid. There, the two discussed Ronaldo’s career since moving to Madrid and the significance of the latest CR7-badged Nike Mercurial release, The Chapter 5: Cut to Brilliance boots. The result of the meeting is a short film, The Conversation, which can be viewed below.
Here, Ferdinand shares further thoughts on Ronaldo, relaying his early memories of the player and the factors that led to his meteoric rise.
When Cristiano arrived in Manchester, he was quite shy. He was very young, just 18, but the moment I saw him play, I knew he was different. His unquestionable talent was there for all to see.
Based on his pure skill, all the players knew he had the potential to become the best in the world. But we had to ask, “Has he got the mentality?”
Quite quickly we realized that yes, Cristiano did have the mentality. He was brave, and by brave I mean he always wanted the ball. When kicked, he always got up. He never moaned.
Based on his pure skill, all the players knew he had the potential to become the best in the world.
But it was his work ethic — his passion for continually improving — that stood out to me. That was his x-factor. He had all the ingredients — skill, mentality, focus — and when he put them together, he became what he is now.
He came to Manchester in 2003 a showman. He wanted to entertain the crowd. But he left in 2009 a true player — wanting to score and win matches first, and entertain second.
The standard in the 2000s was 25-30 goals a season. Since he’s been in Madrid, he’s smashed that out of the park. Now, he's at 50-plus across all competitions. So, although we expected him to be great, in terms of goal ratios, he has surprised us.
Now, Cristiano is the benchmark. He's has set individual records that are unparalleled in terms of what's come before him. We can talk about all the legends...it's unmatched what he's doing in terms of the goals and the trophies. The young kids of this next generation are looking at him like he’s a god, really.
For the Mbappes, the Dembeles and the Rashfords of this world, Cristiano is the inspiration, and there is not a better example. They've got a long way to go to try to match the standard that he set.
It’s not just Cristiano’s on-field success, it's a combination of that and what he does training. You can't have one without the other.
When that combination comes with his intelligence for the game, it makes for what you see in Cristiano.