Cristiano Ronaldo is “competitive in everything”, says former Sporting team-mate Rodrigo Tello, with the Juventus superstar's relentless drive for perfection compared to that of Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan.
Jordan has never shied away from the fact that he strived for continuous improvement over the course of his distinguished career, with the same determination demanded from those around him.
Ronaldo has been treading a similar path in football circles, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner considered to be an ideal example of what can be achieved when natural ability meets dedication.
Tello witnessed those qualities at close quarters when an all-time great was starting out in Portugal, with it clear even from a young age that a man who has gone on to become a global phenomenon would not settle for anything less than perfection.
“I had the opportunity to be a team-mate of a phenomenal footballer like him,” Tello, who spent six years at Sporting between 2001 and 2007, told Record.
“Cristiano Ronaldo’s mentality was totally different from that of a 17-year-old boy. We played foosball and he was the best, we played billiards and he was the best, we did the weights and he was the one who lifted the most. He reminded me of Michael Jordan, a competitive person in everything. He did personalised training, even on match day.”
Ronaldo’s stock has soared since he started out in Lisbon, with spells at Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus seeing him scale heights that few can dare to dream of reaching.
Those who helped to put Ronaldo on a path to the top continue to take great pride in his achievements and form part of a fan club that now stretches to millions around the world.
Tello added on a colleague who has become an icon: “I had a good relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo. On my birthday, my wife surprised me and offered me a Juventus jersey signed by Ronaldo. I have no idea how she got it!”