Cristiano Ronaldo told Louis Saha he needed to smile more during their time at Manchester United together, the Frenchman has claimed. The Juventus star arrived at Old Trafford as a scrawny teenager back in the summer of 2003. But it appears he wasn’t shy to voice his opinion from a young age.
Ronaldo arrived at Manchester United as David Beckham’s replacement in 2003, signing after the England international had joined Real Madrid.
He was initially frustrating to watch, showing a fondness for fancy flicks and tricks – much to the ire of his team-mates.
But it appears that he was still confident and assured, with Saha revealing Ronaldo told him to smile more after he touched down from Fulham in January 2004.
“Even though he was younger than me, I remember he said to me: ‘Louis you need to smile more when you play,’” he told the club’s official website.
“When the kids say that to you, when you’re older and have more experience, you say: ‘Hang on a minute’. But I realised it was so true.
“During his career, he could be cheeky in the way that he spoke to people, and people just could not understand and got frustrated because they were not in his league.
“He’s so above everybody that, when he speaks normally, it sounds strange for everybody. It’s amazing.
“His power and speed… the skills were one thing that are important in a career, but analysing when to do it – the timing and the precision – nobody can do that.”
Saha insists that Ronaldo always knew he would reach the top.
“He always improved but I would say that his ways never changed [as a person],” said the Frenchman.
“Throughout his career, you see the same dedication that he had when he was 18, maybe with less confidence as people were challenging him, and he had to prove that he was the best player.
“But to have that type of confidence to train, to work hard and to be consistent, no matter what people say, that was just an amazing skill.
“It was better than having talent because the way he was able to analyse, at that age, and grow and maintain those qualities – for me, it was genius.
“You ask anybody – working hard when you have that much talent, not everybody does this.
“You can get complacent or happy with your level and you think you have made it. But he wanted it way more.
“To have the vision to see something way more, when you’re already at United, at his age, it’s really hard. He managed to do that and that’s why I respected him so much.”
Meanwhile, former United star Patrice Evra recently revealed Ronaldo had agreed to return to Old Trafford in 2013.
Speaking to United’s official website, Evra said: “He [Ferguson] said: ‘My target is I’m 99 per cent sure we will have Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.’
“‘I just need these two players to win the Champions League again. Ninety-nine per cent’.
“And to be fair, when I speak with Cristiano, I ask him and he said yes to the boss, and was coming to join United. He told me this.”
In the end, that didn’t happen.
But Ronaldo is linked with a move back to United every year and, with Juventus possibly having to sell him to get him off the wage bill, a return one day can’t be entirely ruled out.