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Jul 8, 2009

Ronaldo: Fergie to thank for stalling my ego

Cristiano Ronaldo credits Sir Alex Ferguson for turning him into a less selfish footballer.

The Portuguese forward completed his world-record transfer to Real Madrid this week, and claims he can keep improving in Spain.

But he has hailed Ferguson for changing his game and making him more aware of his team-mates.

"It's obvious that I'm a less egotistical footballer now,'' he told Spanish sports daily AS. "Without a doubt. I know for sure that four years ago I always played to try to end up scoring myself.

"But experience makes you understand that you achieve better things playing as a team and being united. At Madrid they will see a better Cristiano.''

It is United coach Sir Alex Ferguson who Ronaldo credits with that transformation.

Ferguson splashed out £12.24million to bring the teenage Ronaldo to United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 and in six years under the Scot's tutelage, he has developed into one of the best players on the planet.

"Ferguson is a maestro,'' added Ronaldo. "For me he was my father in football. He was crucial in my career and, outside football, was a great human being with me. Talent isn't everything. You can have it from the cradle, but it is necessary to learn the trade to be the best.

"When I arrived in England I was an 18-year-old kid and had established stars by my side. Ferguson taught me to clean up my faults, to know to give the pass at the last moment, to take the right decision in the area.

"I spent six years at United and I owe them everything that I am today. I made history at United and won many trophies. It was a pleasure to play at Old Trafford but now a new stage in my life is beginning at the Bernabeu with new challenges.

"I wanted to play at this club and for that reason I'm here.''

Ronaldo revealed it was his admiration and respect for Ferguson and United that prevented him from joining Madrid last year.

However, the 24-year-old reiterated he has fulfilled a dream by joining Madrid and that his presentation on Monday, which was attended by around 90,000 fans, will live long in the memory.

"I'm used to living with speculation,'' he said. "I could have signed for Madrid in 2008, but there wasn't an agreement between the clubs and I owed myself to United. I wanted to respect that and I did. I took the best decision.''

He added: "Since I've been able to think I've known what this club means. In Madeira they talked about Madrid as the most famous club with the best history in the world, with great international stars.

"The kids in Portugal at my time, we were all for Madrid. For that reason it is a privilege to be here. That kid's dream has been achieved.

"What happened on Monday in the Bernabeu was incredible. I couldn't have imagined what I was experiencing. It was impressive, incredible. I get goosebumps just by remembering it. I wasn't expecting something like it.''

Ronaldo is one of four signings Madrid have made since the return of former president Florentino Perez.

The capital club have spent over 200 million euros this summer on Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Raul Albiol as they bid to build a team capable of challenging treble-winners Barcelona next season.

And Ronaldo, who is looking forward to experiencing the Primera Division, is confident they will gel quickly as a team. "Football in the Premier League is more physical, quicker, they don't stop for a second,'' he said. "In Spain they play a lot more with the ball. Here they value quality more.

"For that reason I think that with the players they are bringing together, things will go well for Madrid. I'm going to work to adapt myself as quickly as possible and I don't think it will be hard with people of such a high level by my side.''

A small pocket of fans doubt whether Ronaldo will prove a good signing for Madrid and fear that his entourage and the amount of attention he attracts could distract from his football - much like the last player they signed from United, David Beckham.

"I don't care what people think about me because I know what I am and how I am,'' he said. "I don't care what they think about my life because the only things that matter to me are playing football, doing things well and being a great professional.

"I am very happy with my life and with my personality. I'm not going to change anything. I am happy with myself. Ask the people at United and they will tell you how I trained the years I was there. I know they will say I was one of the best.

"The image society has of me is not the truth. When they talk with me and truly know me, they will change their opinion. For that reason I'm going to continue like this and not think about changing anything.''

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