New Delh: Sir Alex Ferguson has compared Cristiano Ronaldo to former Manchester United greats such as Eric Cantona and George Best.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the current incumbent of the iconic number 7 at Manchester United, has drawn comparisons with it's former wearers: George Best, and Eric Cantona.
Sir Alex Ferguson believes the Portuguese winking winger deserves special praise for the loyalty shown thus far to the reigning double champions, together with the moral courage he shows whenever he has the ball at feet.
Ferguson told the Times: "British fans have a special appreciation for loyalty when it comes from a great foreign player. That’s the reason Eric Cantona is still so revered here, because he not only understood, but bonded to Manchester. He cherished the club and the company of his teammates."
"If there was ever a player in this world who was made for Manchester United, it was Cantona. I think he had been searching all his life for somebody who looked at him and made him feel that a place was his home. He had travelled around so many countries; there is a wee bit of the gypsy about some people. But when he came here, he knew: this is my place," Ferguson said.
"Gary Neville told me, ‘Occasionally we’d have a night out and hide it from you. We’d all say, ‘Don’t tell anybody about where, or at what time, we are meeting.’ ’ Then at training Cantona would say, ‘Right! I’ll see all of you later! This evening! At nine! In such and such a place.’ They were all going, ‘Shut up! The boss is here!'
"The point was that he was excited to have nights out with the boys. Even though he wasn’t a big drinker, Cantona. A beer. A glass of wine. He just loved being part of that culture, which he’d never experienced in France," he added.
"[When Cantona shakes your hand and looks you in the eye] . . . it’s daunting. And yet, as different as they are, probably the most underrated virtue Ronaldo has, on the pitch, is his bravery," Ferguson continued.
"Courage in football, as in life, comes in many forms. But the courage to continue, no matter how many times he is going to be kicked, identifies Ronaldo. Very few players have that level of courage. Some believe the greatest courage in football is the courage to win the ball.
"The other kind of courage – and it’s a moral courage – is the courage to keep the ball. That’s what Ronaldo has. All the great players had it. Best had it, Charlton had it, Cantona. ‘I’ll take the kick. I’ll take the injury. But I will keep the ball. I’ll beat the bully,’" he concluded.