You'll love these training-ground tales of Ronaldo

Thursday 25 March 2021 09:59

Tales of Cristiano Ronaldo’s relentless work ethic have become legendary and we all love to hear them, so our ears pricked up when former Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster recently shared his enlightening personal stories about the Old Trafford idol.

Foster made his first-team debut in March 2008 and it was during that famous Premier League and Champions League double-winning season when he got to know our Portuguese no.7, observing how he operated around the Aon Training Complex and the little things that made him the best player in world football. 

During a recent appearance on the Happy Hour Podcast, Foster opened up about the man who is arguably the greatest player of all time: “Animal! What a guy, seriously, and a lovely bloke as well. I'm not even joking. For example, he was the first one in every single day and he would be the last one out on the training pitch, and the last one to leave the building every day. 

“And when I was at United, it was the days before Instagram and Twitter, and 'doing it for the 'gram', but he was doing it for himself because he just wanted to be the best he possibly could be. 

Foster was breaking into the first team during Ronaldo's final two seasons at United.

“He was so hard working, it was phenomenal to see. That is why, with the question between [Lionel] Messi and Ronaldo, I will always say Ronaldo because I saw what he did for it and how hard he had to work to get to that level. He is still doing it now.

“You see some of the stuff he does on the internet. He is a machine. An absolute machine! That level of mentality, phwoar, it is a different level.”

Foster’s influence at United grew in 2008/09 when his nine appearances included a dramatic League Cup final at Wembley Stadium and Ronaldo actually had an important role in his performance that day, as the goalkeeper revealed during his appearance on the Happy Hour Podcast. 

“He is a good bloke as well, and helpful with it,” said Ben. “Not just a good bloke, but helpful. In the Carling Cup final, I played for United, we played against Tottenham and we won in the final. I remember the full-time whistle had gone and it was about to go to a penalty shoot-out. 
Ben says a word from Cristiano helped him to star in our 2009 League Cup final success.
“We were walking off the pitch and he literally came over to me and put his arm around me. Bear in mind I am two years older than him and I was like his little son, but it is Ronaldo [laughs]. He came over and he has gone, 'this is your moment, this is your moment'. I remember feeling all warm and glowing, I was buzzing, absolutely buzzing [laughs again]. 

“I went and saved the penalty. We won the penalty shoot-out. Little things like that, he didn't need to do that. He is Cristiano Ronaldo and it was the League Cup final. He has played in the Champions League final, this was nothing to him, but to go and do that, I thought it was sweet. He's a top man.”
“Animal! What a guy, seriously, and a lovely bloke as well,” explains Ben when discussing Cristiano.

Just like Ronaldo, Paul Scholes is another man whose training-ground tales have become iconic and Foster has his own to share, including this one from one of his opening sessions at the club. 

“When I first signed for United, in literally one of my first training sessions, and I was with the goalies. Tony Coton, the goalkeeping coach, we were just taking it in turns, getting some volleys, getting warmed up and stuff,” he said.

“And I'm taking a moment to just watch the lads who are outfield training, watching all of these big boys in action - Ferdinand, Rooney, Vidic, Ronaldo, Scholes, Giggs, all of the bad boys [laughs]! 

Paul Scholes was capable of anything on the training ground, according to Foster.

“Somebody played a ball over to Paul Scholes and on the half-volley, without breaking stride, with the ball travelling, he played it out to the wing and I remember watching it and I must have gone 'oh my God', involuntarily.

“Tony Coton, who is leathering these balls to the goalies, just went, 'who was it, Scholesy?' That's what it was like because, for Scholesy, that was just run of the mill, he did that every day in training. Tony knew who it was without even seeing it. He said 'just wait mate, just wait' and I was like 'wow'.”

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