By Stefan Doring
Former Real Madrid youngster Christopher Schorch has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a "machine" and feels that he deserved to win the Ballon d'Or.
The 25-year-old was considered one of the hottest talents in German football and won a move from Hertha Berlin to the Spanish capital back in 2007.
He failed to live up to his potential and returned to his homeland two years later after a series of injury problems but is delighted to have worked briefly alongside the "humble" Portugal star.
"We never noticed [him being vain]. He did not demand anything in the dressing room. He introduced himself to me and I could feel his great humility when I was there," Schorch told Goal.
"I'm a big fan of his because I know what he does in addition to regular training. He deserved to win the Ballon d'Or, he is a machine. He's a complete professional and a nice human being on and off the pitch."
Schorch, now at Bochum, also took the time to praise the influence of former Spain international Guti, saying that the midfielder was an important role model during his spell in the Spanish capital.
"Our relationship developed because of fashion. Back then I used to walk around like a little gangster," he said.
"He guided me. I was never alone, even though I was 17 years old and without my family. I had the feeling of being involved and he helped me a lot.
"Life in Spain was easy. Madrid took care of us, we had teachers. After six months I could speak Spanish and that made it much easier to settle down even though I was young and homesick but those two-and-a-half years helped me grow and I had a lot of fun."
Reflecting on his transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu, Schorch says that he was surprised by the excitement surrounding his signing.
"I was 17 years old and 50 journalists were waiting for me. I originally thought they must have been there because of somebody else," he recalled.
"The mentality was very warm. I can still feel it today, people keep me how I was. I never experienced anything like it.
"Back then I had the chance to renew by contract at Berlin and that's what I planned to do. I had many firends there and family as well but then Real Madrid contacted me. This is a chance you probably get only once. What happened next was not really lucky for both parties but that's water under the bridge now."
Real Madrid face Schalke in the Champions League on Tuesday, having claimed a 6-1 win in Germany in the first leg, a performance which left Schorch stunned.
"I was at the first leg in Schalke. The atmosphere was astonishing but the result was way too high for Schalke," he remarked.
"Real played insane football from time to time. Suddenly they went up a gear and played through Schalke's defence so fast. Sure, these teams are not at the same level but I'd hoped that Schalke could do it with a little luck and a big fight. It's a shame there's no tension left in this tie."