Cristiano Ronaldo is “very competitive” and “challenges you at any time”, admits Nani, with a man who followed in the footsteps of a fellow countryman at Manchester United admitting the five-time Ballon d’Or winner can be difficult to live with.
Two Portuguese shared a home for a while during their days at Old Trafford, with Brazil international Anderson another who was thrown into the mix.
Even at that early stage of his remarkable career, Ronaldo was showing the dedication to his craft that has allowed him to cement a standing as an all-time great.
Nani and Anderson were left in no doubt as to the desire of a room-mate to reach the very top, with their lives dominated by challenges posed by Ronaldo on and off the field.
“Cristiano was very competitive,” Nani, who is now on the books of MLS side Orlando City, told United’s official podcast.
“When you’re staying in his house for a day, it means he challenges you at any time. He had a swimming pool, a tennis court and ping-pong table.
“Sometimes, it’s just competing to see who knows who’s telling the truth, or who is right about something. Every time, there was a discussion to see who was right or who was better.
“The only time we were not playing was the night time, we’d sit on the sofa talking and Cristiano would just disappear [to bed]. We’d learn because me and Ando would be very tired when we woke up. He’d already been up two hours earlier, checking the news and would say: ‘Okay, let’s go’.
“He was the only one who had a car then, in the beginning, so we had to be ready to go with him. Fantastic moments and great memories we have.”
While enjoying the time he got to spend alongside Ronaldo with club and country, a man who took the same path from Sporting to United as a modern-day legend admits that he found comparisons between the two difficult to deal with.
Nani, who spent eight years at Old Trafford between 2007 and 2015, added: “I’d not let it affect me as my focus was not on there but, after, when I had more responsibility in Manchester, when Cristiano left, at the beginning it was a little bit difficult.
“There were a lot of comparisons and it looks like you need to prove yourself every time, to do the same or as good as him, when you are a different player.
“When you arrive, people in the stadium, all the fans, they love you because they saw something different in you. They like that difference but, after they create something in their minds that he needs to be the other Ronaldo, or the new Cristiano. For those moments it was a little bit difficult but, very fast, I learned how to protect myself and distract myself from that.
“I had great moments in Manchester. I enjoyed so much my football there. I had some injuries in the middle and several moments that didn’t allow me to perform consistently for as long as I wanted. But I’m still very happy for everything I did in that club, all the fantastic players I played with, the coaches, all the staff I met in that great club.”
Nani, who saw Ronaldo leave Manchester for Real Madrid in 2009, took in 230 appearances for United – scoring 40 goals across those outings and forming part of four Premier League title wins and a Champions League triumph.