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Exclusive: Mikael Silvestre on when he realised Cristiano Ronaldo was a future Ballon d'Or winner

Cristiano Ronaldo
(Image credit: Getty)

Mikael Silvestre played alongside some world class players during his nine year stint at Old Trafford, but Cristiano Ronaldo was undoubtedly the best of the bunch. The Portuguese inspired Manchester United to three Premier League titles, the Champions League, one FA Cup and two League Cups during his first spell in England. 

Ronaldo's transformation from skinny trickster into the best player in the world was fascinating for fans and teammates alike, and Silvestre admits he had no idea just how good CR7 would one day become when the youngster signed from Sporting Lisbon in 2003. 

"At first, no – I didn't know he would become as good as he has." Silvestre, who spoke to FourFourTwo in association with MyBettingSites, said. "It was during the course of his third season that we knew. I told him he would win the Ballon d’Or if he carried on like this, because he was getting better and better and providing for the team and being more lethal in front of goal.

"The technical attributes were there but also the mentality. The hard work. He worked harder than his teammates and harder than anyone else. On and off the field, he started showing the character we see now. That came out once his English improved, he started to become a leader."

Ronaldo went on to make 291 appearances during his first spell for the Red Devils, scoring 118 goals. Now back at Old Trafford after an 12 year absence, he still retains his knack for scoring goals. The 36-year-old has nine in his opening 12 appearances for United this season, and will be key to his side's chances of defeating Manchester City in this weekend's derby. 

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