Patrice Evra has shared a story on ITV that provides yet another example of the indefatigable mentality which has propelled Cristiano Ronaldo to five Balon d’Ors during his career.
The Portuguese, upon moving to Sporting Lisbon as an 11-year-old, told his teammates and coaches – to laughs of derision – that he was going to be the best player in the world. He was often caught breaking into the gym in the middle of the night.
And Evra, who played alongside Ronaldo for four years and won seven major honours during that time, has blessed ITV with an anecdote of a similar nature – revealing how, having lost to Rio Ferdinand at table tennis, he trained for two weeks and went on to resoundingly beat his teammate in front of everyone.
“They were playing table tennis and Rio beat him and we were all screaming and Ronaldo was so upset,” he said.
“Then he sent his cousin to buy a table tennis table. He trained for two weeks at home and he came back and he beat Rio in front of everyone. That’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
“That’s why I am not surprised today that he wants to win another Golden Ball, why he wants to win the World Cup because he’s an angry man.”
He also made it clear to anyone to never expect a luscious gourmet banquet dinner at chez Ronaldo should one ever be invited, shedding light on his relentlessly healthy diet.
“I will give advice to anybody, when Cristiano invites you at his house for lunch, just say no, not because of the food, because I feel like we’re having a training session over there. Only salad, plain white chicken, water, no juice. This guy is a machine.”
It is a grave shame that this aspect of Ronaldo – that intangible, inestimably powerful hardworking analytic which has driven the Portuguese in ways even the greatest athletes of all time could only marvel at – is not given the presentation it deserves in the media.
There is, of course, the other side to Ronaldo: the ‘selfishness’ on the pitch, the empty threats to leave Real Madrid, the tax business, actively recoiling in hatred whenever Gareth Bale scores, the vanity, the style he opts for.
That will, sadly, always attract more attention. But that motivation and raw spirit he has brought to the table, week in week out, since the age of 11 ought to serve as an example to anybody, whatever their goals in life.