Nicky Butt reflects on Cristiano Ronaldo’s first spell at Old Trafford, explains the reason behind his success

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United, parades with the Champions League trophy in 2008
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United, parades with the Champions League trophy in 2008 - IMAGO / Colorsport

Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt has hailed the dedication and tireless work ethic of Cristiano Ronaldo as he reflected back on the Portuguese international’s first spell at Old Trafford.

Butt revealed that Ronaldo worked extremely hard to get to where he is today and the 36-year-old had to be dragged off the training pitch at times.

Speaking to the Manchester United legend explained that Cristiano Ronaldo had to work on his physicality when he first arrived in the Premier League and he was obsessed with improving his technique as well.

Furthermore the Portuguese international choose not to have a girlfriend or kids so that he could devote his entire time to football and he lived alone to avoid any kind of distractions.

Ronaldo has developed into one of the best players of his generation and Butt claims that it was his total dedication, commitment and hard work that led him to the top and not just his talents.

Butt said (via Goal): “Ronaldo was to emerge as a genius but it wasn’t just about his talents that took him right to the top.

“It is often said that certain players worked hard, stayed behind for some extra training or to practise their techniques, but with Cristiano, it was total dedication, total commitment, and total hard work.

“He didn’t have a God-given physique, it wasn’t given, he worked hard to achieve it. He actually came to us as a skinny, scrawny young kid, and worked hard to get that physique over many years.

“He had to reach a new level of physical strength because the Premier League demanded it, and he had plenty of opportunities to see at first hand how physical and tough it can be when he was up against, even in training, the likes of Roy Keane and Jaap Stam.

“We would also see him work relentlessly on his free-kicks and he would tell us about something he had seen somewhere, and he wanted to perfect it, and he would work again relentlessly until he did. It all went beyond dedication, he was obsessed with football.

“You see it all the time when some players talk about their dedication and how much extra practise they put in.

“Often it is little more than a pretence, maybe a touch more time practising and then rush off to do something else they are keen on, or can’t wait to go home and have something to eat, but rarely do you find someone totally committed 24/7 to the game, but Cristiano was one of those.

“He never had a girlfriend back then, or seemed that interested in any distractions such as that, he never had a wife and kids to rush back to see or to entertain, he lived alone.

“He was the last to leave the building. In fact, you couldn’t get him off the training pitch as he worked relentlessly on his techniques, as we all walking off he was carrying a bag of balls to work on those techniques.

“We would be having lunch in the canteen or getting ready to go home and you could hear the voice of Sir Alex bellowing across the training fields at two or three o’clock in the afternoon, shouting at Cristiano that it was time to get off the pitch as ‘we have a game in two days – enough now!’”

The 36-year-old completed an emotional return to Manchester United earlier this summer and he has been outstanding for the Red Devils so far.

Ronaldo has managed to hit the ground running and he has been scoring consistently for Manchester United since his arrival including a 95th-minute winner in the Champions League against Villarreal during the midweek.

It remains to be seen whether the Portuguese superstar can guide his side to a trophy this season.