Revealed: How Ronaldo set about toppling Giggs & Rooney at Man Utd

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Mike Phelan claims the Portuguese was driven to become the best from the moment he arrived at Old Trafford, with free-kick duty first in his sights

Cristiano Ronaldo’s route to the top of world football started from the moment he arrived at Manchester United, with Mike Phelan revealing how the Portuguese set about ridding Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney of free-kick duty.

The Red Devils acquired a then promising 18-year-old from Sporting in 2003, with Sir Alex Ferguson buying into the potential of a man who has gone on to collect five Ballons d’Or and countless major collective honours.

It did not take long for Ronaldo to make his mark at Old Trafford, with his dribbling ability and quick feet showcased from the off.

He was always determined to be much more than a show pony, though, and made it one of his first missions in England to topple two United icons when it came to set-piece duty.

Former Red Devils assistant manager Phelan told the Daily Mail: “When Cristiano Ronaldo first arrived at Manchester United in 2003, Ryan Giggs was on free-kicks.

“But Cristiano took on challenges like nobody else. He always wanted to try something.

“He wanted to be the guy who found out through trying. He did it every day after training with Giggs and Wayne Rooney.

“The first challenge was to be better than his team-mates. He rose to that.

“Once he mastered it, he liked people to be around him watching it and talking about it.”

Ronaldo’s quest to be the best also saw him test himself against the finest goalkeepers at Old Trafford, with Edwin van der Sar called upon to aid his development.

Phelan added: “He also insisted on doing it against the best goalkeepers.

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“He wouldn't have a youth team goalkeeper in nets. He wanted to score against Edwin van der Sar.

“He spoke to the goalkeepers and asked about their psyche: finding out what they thought and what they found difficult.”

Ronaldo went on to make 292 appearances for United, netting 118 goals and taking in three Premier League titles, two League Cup wins, an FA Cup success, Champions League crown and Club World Cup triumph.

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