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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 23, 2006

Ronaldo can be 'world's best'- Queiroz

Manchester United assistant boss Carlos Queiroz has backed Cristiano Ronaldo to become the best player in the world.

All eyes will be on the Portugal winger on Tuesday, when he heads back to his homeland to face Benfica, especially as his last appearance at the Stadium of Light ended in such disaster.

Totally ineffective as United crashed out of the Champions League group phase in December and baited throughout by home supporters acutely aware of his previous affiliation to Sporting Lisbon, Ronaldo lost his rag as he made his way off the field.

Although allegations of spitting towards fans were ultimately rejected, the 21-year-old was found guilty by UEFA of offering a `one-fingered gesture' to his hosts and was banned for the opening game of this season's competition.

Since then, Ronaldo landed himself in even more trouble during the World Cup.

Not only was he widely condemned for his part in getting Wayne Rooney sent off during England's quarter-final defeat to Portugal, he hardly endeared himself to United fans either with repeated statements of his desire to join Real Madrid.

Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed he was never worried that Ronaldo would leave Old Trafford.

Yet the Scot did treat the threats with enough seriousness to dispatch Queiroz to the Portugal World Cup camp, where his second-in-command was successful in getting Ronaldo to recognise he could achieve all his career goals with the Red Devils.

'When you deal with young players, it is not about telling them, or forcing them to do certain things,' said Queiroz.

'It is about getting them to think about life, principles and values, teaching them to think for themselves and come up with the right answers.

'You want them to try to create the right balance between how they play, the things they say, the friends they have, everything around the game, on and off the pitch.

'With Cristiano I am always trying to create that special ambition and desire within him not to be one of the best players in the world but to be the best player in the world. He can do it, there is no doubt in my mind about that.'

Given the maturity Ronaldo has shown in responding to the taunts of opposition crowds in the Premiership this season, Queiroz is not anticipating a repeat of the youngster's petulant behaviour on his previous visit to Lisbon.

On the contrary, he thinks the Madeira-born star can use Tuesday's game as an opportunity to correct a few things.

'In the few months since the World Cup, Cristiano has grown up and matured fantastically,' he said.

'We won't speak about what happened against Benfica last season, we did that at the time.

'I think he realises this is a special opportunity for him to reverse what happened last season and leave the stadium in a correct manner.

'Cristiano has shown recently that he is not affected by mistakes, that he has a strong personality and can play with a lot of authority. I am sure he will do well.'

United also expect Rooney to make a major impact after struggling for form during the early weeks of the campaign and has not scored in Europe since his debut-day hat-trick against Fenerbahce two years ago. Not that anyone around Old Trafford is too bothered.

'There is no reason why Wayne has struggled in Europe,' said Queiroz. 'It will come.

'When people talk about him, they treat him like someone who has been a professional for years, yet he has only been with us for a short period of time.

'He is so young, and it is so early in his career it is impossible to make a fair judgement about him.'

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