Dalot: Playing with Ronaldo is a dream
Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot says he is relishing every opportunity to play with his countryman and idol Cristiano Ronaldo.
Growing up in Portugal, footballers don’t come much bigger than our no.7 and Dalot is now lining up alongside the country’s greatest-ever player both at club and international level.
In an exclusive interview with Inside United, the official club magazine, our no.20 speaks about what it's like to play with Cristiano and how he followed him throughout his childhood.
Although Dalot eventually became a full-back and not an attacker like Ronaldo, the 22-year-old says he was a big source of inspiration growing up.
"My first memory was when he was at United, that’s when I learnt all about him and really liked the way he played," the former Porto man says.
"I’ve spoken many times about Cristiano – he was a big reference for me growing up and then having the opportunity to meet him in the national team, and now being his team-mate. It’s a very good achievement for me too because when you grow up you want to play with the best and, playing with the best, it’s a very proud moment in my career."
He goes on to explain what influence Ronaldo has back in Portugal.
"In our country, everybody knows him, everybody follows him and he’s had a big impact," Dalot said.
"It’s another level. Something we can’t describe with words, just to enjoy while we still can and he’s still playing. And I’m very happy that he’s here now."
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Diogo was in attendance at Estadio do Dragao when our no.7 fired in a rocket from 40 yards against Porto in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, back in April 2009.
“The first time I saw him was in Porto when he scored that goal from almost 100 yards [laughs]," Dalot recalled.
"I was in the stands behind the goal and obviously I wasn’t too happy because I was supporting Porto [smiles], but it was my first memory seeing him live. I tried to reach him when I was a kid and he was in the national team but my first memory is that game. Afterwards it’s watching him on the internet and videos like everybody else."
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To this day, Dalot still admires Ronaldo for his goalscoring and talent but it's the professionalism of the 36-year-old that is most impressive.
"I think it’s the way he conducts himself and prepares himself for the games," Diogo said.
"It’s another level. It’s special to combine the way you saw him before and now you can see him behind the scenes as well, and combine everything. It’s amazing to have that energy and that mentality, also, in the dressing room. I think he brings everybody up and that’s so positive for us."
You can read the full interview with Dalot exclusively in the November edition of Inside United.