Cristiano Ronaldo Was 'Butchered and Battered' at Manchester United, Former Teammate Reveals

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo at Santiago Bernabeu stadium, Madrid, July 6 2009. Ronaldo moved to Spain following a successful six-year spell at Manchester United. Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty

Gary Neville has revealed how the uncompromising treatment Cristiano Ronaldo received in the Manchester United dressing room turned him into one of the world's greatest players.

Ronaldo, 31, arrived at United in 2003 under then manager Sir Alex Ferguson as a willowy winger. By the time he left for a world-record fee in the summer of 2009, to join Real Madrid, Ronaldo had transformed himself into a lightning fast, physical goalscorer.

Or United had transformed him, as Neville suggested in an interview with radio station talkSPORT.

"He didn't arrive at Manchester United as someone who was setting the tone for everybody else. It wasn't a case of he came in and all of a sudden everyone else upped their game, that's not how it was," Neville said.

"He became that out of what was in that dressing room. Cristiano was butchered and battered for two or three years at Manchester United and he has said it made him a man.

"He was setting the standards when he left, and he became someone who would come in and do half an hour before training and an hour after training, but there had been 20 players per season for 15 years doing that every day.

"The club, and Sir Alex [Ferguson], and the players all set the tone for each other. If you look at his performances in the first two or three years, his maturity, his decision-making, his physicality, his petulance, they were all smoothed out over a period of three or four years at the club."

Ronaldo has gone on to have a prolific goalscoring career at the Santiago Bernabeu, with 261 goals in 216 La Liga games.