Legendary Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has named Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the five best players he has worked with during his record-breaking career.
The Italian, 63, coached Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu between 2013 and 2015, winning the Champions League and Copa del Rey in their first season together. Under Ancelotti’s tutelage, Ronaldo enjoyed the most prolific season of his career – plundering 61 goals in the 2014/15 campaign – and won two Ballons d’Or.
The pair have spoken very highly of each other in the past, so it was no surprise to see the former Chelsea and Bayern Munich boss pick Ronaldo as one of the finest talents he has worked alongside, as well as two of his current players at Real Madrid.
Speaking on Italian television show Che Tempo Fa, per Managing Madrid, Ancelotti chose Los Blancos duo Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema, Brazilian icon Ronaldo and AC Milan veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic to round off his top five. Vinicius and Ballon d’Or holder Benzema were vital as Real Madrid won the double of La Liga and the Champions League last season, beating Liverpool in the final of the latter competition.
Ancelotti worked alongside Ronaldo Nazario at AC Milan during the 2007/08 season and the two-time World Cup winner is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Ibrahimovic, another prolific striker, plied his trade under the decorated manager in the 2012/13 campaign at Paris Saint-Germain and plundered 35 goals in all competitions.
But it is Ronaldo whom Ancelotti has hailed as the greatest player he has ever worked with in the past. While in charge in the Spanish capital in 2013, he told The Times : “I’ve seen Ronaldo play a lot of times, of course, but when you’re up close every day his technical skills are unbelievable. He’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
Speaking to ESPN four years later, Ancelotti said: “His [Ronaldo’s] belly is never full. People had told me he was like this before I went to Real Madrid, but until you actually work with him every day, you don’t realise to what degree he takes it.
“He is hugely professional and he works as hard anybody out there. From recovery to diet, he takes care of every detail, ensuring everything is optimal. When I compare it to my playing days, there is no comparison – players today are far more professional – but he takes it to another level.”
The admiration between the pair is mutual and Ronaldo told ESPN in 2015: “He’s [Ancelotti is] an unbelievable person. I just wish every player could have an opportunity to work with him because he’s a fantastic guy, a fantastic coach, and I miss him a lot because we won many trophies together.”
This season, Ancelotti has guided Real Madrid to the knockout stage of the Champions League, where they will face Liverpool in the last 16, whereas Ronaldo is at the centre of controversy at Manchester United following his interview with Piers Morgan.