The Gesture Before Champions League Final That Shows Cristiano Ronaldo Is 'Not An Egomaniac'
Owen Hargreaves has told a story about Cristiano Ronaldo that shows the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is not all about himself.
It's a common misconception that Ronaldo puts himself first before the team but Hargreaves, who played with the Portuguese superstar at Manchester United, has dispelled the myth.
The former England international says that CR7, despite being United's first-choice free-kick taker, gave him permission to assume set-piece duties in the 2008 Champions League final after seeing how efficient he was practising against. Edwin van der Sar during the warm up.
The Dutchman instructed Hargreaves to take the free-kick reins but he was initially hesitant until he got the blessing from United's talismanic No.7.
Asked how you would go about taking free-kicks off Ronaldo, Hargreaves told BeIN Sports: "Ask politely, like anything.
"But to be fair we used to practise all the time and he knew I could take them.
"That's the only thing I'd say, I always played in a team where we had world-class players, so as a young kid it's hard to get on free-kicks even though you could do it.
"So if I ever got one, which wasn't very often even at Bayern, I had to score, because if I didn't score I wouldn't get one for a while.
"But we used to practise all the time and Cristiano knew I could and I love that about him.
"I remember we played, I'd scored a couple, and we practised before the Champions League final against Chelsea that year, he was on one side of the box and I was on the other. I hit nine out of ten into the top corner, Edwin [van der Sar] was in goal.
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"And Edwin came to me and said, 'Owen, if we get a free-kick in the Champions League final you've gotta take it'. I said, 'I can't take it off Cristiano, that's Cristiano Ronaldo'. '
"Anyway, we get to the dressing room, we're warming up to go out on the pitch before we go out, nobody is around, Cristiano walks over and says, 'Owen if we get a free-kick today it's yours, I saw you practising'.
"And that's who he was. Everybody thinks he's like it's all about him and an egomaniac. But if you're good at something he's the first one to see that.
"And that's why I got to take a couple that year because he knew I might score. I admire that about him, I really do."
There are a whole host of stories of players seeing Ronaldo's drive and determination to be the best player in the world on a regular basis.
Hargreaves too witnessed it during gym sessions with the club's strength coach Mike Clegg, with Ronaldo outright stating his desired goal to his colleague.
He added: "I remember every time I went into the gym Cristiano was there doing these sit-ups with a medicine ball with Mike, and I remember he finished a set early on in the season and said, 'Owen, I want to be the best player in the world'. And he wasn't yet.
"And that year he scored all the goals, we won the Premier League, we won the Champions League, he knew once he won the Champions League it would put him in that category which almost made it undeniable.
"His work rate was crazy. His talent was undeniable but his work rate was almost as good so when you match talent with work rate, which most people don't have, then you get what he is which is almost like a creation from something. He is unstoppable."