'He missed a lot' - Ex-Man Utd coach Rene Meulensteen reveals how he turned Cristiano Ronaldo into a prolific goalscorer

Ronaldo MeulensteenGetty
  • Duo worked together at Man Utd
  • Meulensteen worked on finishing
  • Changed Ronaldo's "mindset"

WHAT HAPPENED? Cristiano Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the game having scored 853 career goals to date. But apparently, he was not as good in front of goal as he is now at the start of his career.

His transformation from a winger to a goal machine happened during his first stint at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson's tutelage and the coaching of his assistant Rene Meulensteen. The Dutch coach, who spent 13 years at Manchester United and is currently serving as an assistant coach in the Australian national team, revealed how he changed the Portuguese's mindset on the training ground which in turn transformed him into a prolific goalscorer.

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to Optus Sport, Meulensteen said, "He started to become more and more productive. He started to decide games. When he made that transition, I did a lot of work with him on his finishing. Cristiano could score a goal, but he wasn’t a goal-scorer. I needed to turn him into a goal-scorer. He always wanted to score the most important goal and the most beautiful goal. Therefore, he missed a lot of opportunities to score goals. I wanted to change his mindset to understand it’s all about scoring as many goals as you can. That was the biggest transition he made.

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"He 100 per cent had the potential to become the best player in the world. The key to unlocking that potential was to get him into the right environment with the right people. In one way, his progress was down to the environment he was in – he was surrounded by so many good players. Also, it was all the extra stuff he did with the coaches, chats with Sir Alex Ferguson and [assistant manager] Carlos Queiroz, the work that the strength-and-conditioning guys did, the work the technical coaches like myself did to improve his finishing. But the most important was Cristiano himself. He was so determined and focused. He was always doing extra work. He embraced everything that he knew would get him to where he wanted to be. He wanted to become the best player in the world."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: There is no stopping Ronaldo even at the age of 38 as he continues to weave his magic in Saudi Arabia where he has scored nine times in eight games this season.


Sir Alex Ferguson Rene MeulensteenGetty

Cristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr 2023-24Getty

WHAT NEXT? Ronalodo will be next seen in action on Friday when Al-Nassr face Al-Ta'ee in the Saudi Pro League.