Sir Alex Ferguson once revealed that Al-Nassr superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was among the four world-class players he mentored during his legendary Manchester United career. Ferguson, who ended an outstanding 26-year tenure in 2013, won an incredible 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies with United.
The legendary 81-year-old Scot also managed a host of incredible talent including Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham and Bryan Robson. However, United legend Ferguson claimed there were only four players under his management who would fall into the ‘world class’ category.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (L) laughs with first-team coach Rene Meulensteen during a training session at the Carrington training complex in Manchester, northwest England March 4, 2013, on the eve of the second leg of the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League soccer match against Real Madrid. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES. (Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP via Getty Images)
Ferguson’s four world-class players‘
In his 2015 autobiography Leading, Ferguson named legendary United trio Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes among his four world-class players.
And the former United manager rounded out his selection with Ronaldo, whom Ferguson described as “a jewel on top of a Christmas tree”. “In my opinion, there are only two world-class players playing today: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo,” Ferguson said (via The Daily Mail).
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“I don’t want to belittle or criticize any of the great or very good footballers who have played for me during my 26-year United career, but there have only been four who have been world-class: Cantona, Giggs, Ronaldo and Scholes.
“And out of the four, Cristiano was like a trinket on top of a Christmas tree.”
He added: “If you read the newspapers or listen to the TV commentators, it seems that we are being inundated with ‘world-class’ footballers.”
Ronaldo is the best player Ferguson has mentored
Ronaldo joined Old Trafford from Sporting CP in 2003 and enjoyed incredible success in his early days at United under Ferguson.
Ferguson holds the 38-year-old Portuguese striker in high esteem and believes he was the best player he has ever mentored in his illustrious career.
When he received the Walther Bensemann Prize in 2016, he said in Nuremberg (via The Independent): “Ronaldo is a perfect example of someone who created himself.
“It’s easy for me to say, ‘Yes, I did Ronaldo.’
“A lot of coaches might say I made this player and I made this player, but Ronaldo made himself.
“We just gave him the tools and platform to excel. His practice ethic was incredible.”