Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t always been the confident and charismatic person we see in interviews today – he didn’t even know the word confident when he arrived in England.
No, when Manchester United signed him from Sporting Lisbon for £ 12.24million in 2003 he was developing his game but quickly became football’s greatest player.
He adapted to life in the Premier League quite quickly and improved over the 2003/04 season.
Ronaldo, now 36, can speak multiple languages, but at the time his fluency in English was not as fast as his performance on the pitch. He was 18 to be fair.
Thus, in 2004, it was up to Gary Neville to help him through his first interview in English.
Neville had just scored the winner against Leicester in April, but it was Ronaldo who took home the man of the match award.
The United legend is seen asking the Sky Sports reporter if he wants Ronaldo, then 18, to speak on camera.
Neville then waved to his teammate and even gave him some advice on what to say… like “I liked the game. I dribble really well”.
The Portuguese striker then answered a question in English before struggling to understand the rest of the questions.
Neville then stepped in and answered for him as the teenager still familiarized himself with the language.
However, it didn’t take long for Ronaldo to become fluent and become one of the best players in the world.
He became a superstar both domestically and in Europe, but he wasn’t afraid to help his teammates who were struggling with the language, as he did when he arrived.
Years later, Ronaldo conducted a fun live Sky Sports interview with teammate Anderson after Man United won the Premier League title in 2009, which was their last in red before joining Real Madrid.
He asked the questions in Portuguese and English before encouraging the Brazilian midfielder to respond.
After a fairly routine question, Ronaldo decides to troll his teammate when he asks him about his performance.
He told Anderson: “You were a little disappointing because you came over and only got one touch of the ball.”
The answer was in Portuguese and he then refused to translate the answer… whatever he said, it was a pretty funny moment in the locker room.
Ronaldo was a popular addition to the dressing room from the moment he arrived and Roy Keane, captain at the time, liked what he saw.
“He had a nice presence about her and a great attitude,” he wrote in his autobiography, The Second Half.
“What impressed me the most was that he had the opportunity to stay in Lisbon for another year, on loan, but he said no; he had come to Manchester straight away. I thought it was a good and courageous decision – because he was only seventeen.
“After the first few days watching him train, my reaction was, ‘This boy is going to be one of the greatest players in the world.’ I haven’t said it publicly, because I would always be wary of building a player too early – or knocking them out.
“He looked like a player. You have to watch the play, and he did. [Zinedine] Zidane looked like a player – and Ronaldo looked like a player. The form, the body language – they were there. A little arrogance too. But he had a nice way of it; he was very nice. We forget that he was very strongly criticized when he entered the scene. He was coming down too fast on the tackle, his final product wasn’t good enough.
“But – again – he was only seventeen, a kid. I was playing youth football for Rockmount in Cork at that age.
“He was amazing. He was immediately one of United’s hardest working players. Most of the players I knew worked hard, but Ronaldo had the talent in addition to the pace of work.
“He was handsome and he knew it. He was conceited in that sense – in front of the mirror. He was a big boy, a big unit. I thought, “Of course you”. Looking at some of the other guys in front of the mirror I thought, ‘Yeh f *** in’ nugget. ‘
“But Ronaldo had for him an innocence and a kindness. I don’t think he ever slacked off, or that he was always more worried about the mirror than his game. I always thought football was his love.