Cristiano Ronaldo was just 24 when he left Manchester United for Real Madrid in 2009; as he turns 33, UEFA.com compares and contrasts his goalscoring statistics since that move from Old Trafford.
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After learning who Cristiano Ronaldo's favourite opponents have been in UEFA club competition, UEFA.com broke down the statistics to discover the profound upturn in the Portuguese forward's goalscoring fortunes since his 2009 move to Spain.
• Ronaldo averaged a goal every 290 minutes and 30 seconds in European games before he went to the Santiago Bernabéu aged 24; subsequently, he has managed a goal every 84 minutes – more than one a game.
• Ronaldo has faced 32 teams in Europe with Real Madrid, failing to score against only five: Barcelona, Dinamo Zagreb, Legia Warszawa, Napoli and the Merengues' round of 16 opponents Paris. By contrast, he found the net against just ten of the 25 sides he met with Sporting CP and United.
Who has Ronaldo scored against with Real Madrid?
• How Ronaldo came into his own at Real Madrid
Ronaldo scored 33 goals in all competitions in his first season at Real Madrid, 2009/10, but the arrival of coach José Mourinho the next summer brought a steep rise in his striking figures – he hit over 50 goals (on all fronts) in each of the next six seasons, before dipping to 42 in 2016/17.
Mourinho created a bespoke role for Ronaldo, enabling him to stay on his prefered left wing but with licence to go for goal. "Is he a forward?" the coach mused in 2011. "I do not think he is. I think [his game] is one-on-one against a rival. Is he a winger? No, because he is also a goalscorer and when you are a winger, how many goals do you score in a season; half a dozen? I think he is the mixture of two things. He has everything."
Encouraged to focus on finishing, Ronaldo blossomed into the ultimate match winner – a status he still has at 33. "He knows he can't go up and down all the time now," former United team-mate Gary Neville said. "He knows he can't go past players all the time. He'll become a goalscorer, a poacher and a good one."
How long can he go on for? Ronaldo's doctor José Carlos Noronha said: "He has a unique physique and is like those cars that can travel millions of kilometres without any fault." Expect him to keep scoring well into his mid-30s.
Who did Ronaldo score against with Sporting CP and Manchester United?
• How Ronaldo was transformed at Manchester United
Signed from Sporting CP as a terrifyingly skilful teenager, Ronaldo dazzled on his August 2003 debut against Bolton in the Premier League, his quick feet and step-overs the talk of Old Trafford. However, as he found his feet as a winger, Sir Alex Ferguson and his staff were eager to develop him as a team player.
The trickery was toned down, while he was urged to drift infield and finish – rather than cross – as time went by. Work was also done to toughen him up. "Members of the coaching staff were encouraged to turn a blind eye if they saw Ronaldo being fouled in practice matches or small-sided games," coach Tony Coton recalled of the player's early years at United in his autobiography, There To Be Shot At.
"When a free-kick was not forthcoming, he'd throw his hands up in outrage and sit on the turf muttering Portuguese curses while the game continued around him. Toughened pros like Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand would lambast him for being soft. It was tough love and slowly but surely, the message began to seep into our winger's consciousness."
Ronaldo also put in huge effort in the gym, building his strength, and Gary Neville remembers his amazement at seeing Ronaldo after he returned from the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
"He walked into the dressing room and I thought: 'Jeez, what's happened to him over the summer?'," he wrote. "When he had come to the club he was this thin, wiry boy. Now he was a light-heavyweight. He'd been on the weights over the summer and it was like watching someone grow up in a matter of weeks."
All his coaches at Old Trafford attest to Ronaldo's phenomenal dedication to improving himself, with Sir Alex happy to give the player credit. "Ronaldo is a perfect example of someone who made himself," he said. "It's easy for me to say: 'Yeah, I made Ronaldo.' Many coaches might say I made this player and I made that player, but Ronaldo made himself."