Manchester United’s head of performance, Tony Strudwick, reveals to FourFourTwo the extra training sessions which has made Cristiano Ronaldo one of the game’s greatest players.
Was he always asking questions, was he like a student?
“Yes, I think coachability and asking the right questions is what makes a great athlete, and Cristiano certainly had that. This is one of the biggest problems for young players coming through the system. Some don’t ask enough questions and take that intellectual curiosity.
Ronaldo was always interested, not just about the game but outside the game and showing passion in playing the game and wanting to learn.”
Managers and fans love players who work hard, but did you ever have to tell Ronaldo to ease off?
“We had a coach when I first joined Man United, Carlos Quieroz, who encouraged me to make sure that the players did not stay out too long, but obviously, Ronaldo wanted to do extra work. So there was conflict, because the players wanted to keep training and we wanted to pull them off. One day at Carrington I saw him training by himself on the astro turf. He was passing and doing skills, but with ankle weights on. This was about quickening his feet. He always wanted to do more, always looked to improve.”
He said that he wants to carry on for another 10 years. Do you think that he can do that?
“I think he’s got the mentality to do so. As he gets older, he may have to take up a slightly different role on the pitch. Ryan Giggs set the standard, playing up to the age he did and I believe Ronaldo can adapt and evolve his game both physically and mentally, to achieve the same.”
Is Ronaldo sport’s greatest athlete?
“I think he’s had a very, very unique career span. Very few people dominate their sport. To do that it takes relentless pursuit and performance, its takes incredible discipline and it also takes that intelligence of what he needs to perform. But to see what he’s doing now and how he is performing is no surprise to us. He’ll go down as an all-time great.”