Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been singing the praises of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Former England international midfielder Gerrard faced the Portuguese earlier this month in the Champions League at Anfield. Ronaldo was the star of the show that evening as he opened the scoring with a truly world-class finish.
The match eventually finished in a 3-0 victory for the defending European champions, with Gerrard now admitting his admiration of the Spanish giants.
‘Coaches have always said to me there are times no tactics, or anything you can do, will stop quality football,’ he told The Daily Mail. ‘That first Madrid goal, very few in the world can finish that. I applaud that goal, a magical goal by a magical player’.
Gerrard and Ronaldo were rivals when the latter was on the books of United for six years between 2003 and 2009.
Reflecting on the 29-year-old’s progress, the Englishman said: ‘The first I saw Ronaldo was in a friendly against Manchester United, for Sporting Lisbon. He tore the back out of John O’Shea. I felt sorry for him. It’s been interesting to see him progress, improving year by year.
‘I think he has changed from being an individual player out wide — a showman who sometimes did skill that didn’t always hurt you — to being more direct and lethal.
‘In the old days he could be stopped. I saw Ashley Cole mark him out of the game. John Arne Riise used to do well against him. Now he does all his work around the box, between the lines where you can’t pick him. I’ve never seen a player improve year by year so quickly.’
Ronaldo has indeed matured and become a much better player than he was at United. The Portugal international is one of the best players in the world at the moment and is once again the top favourite to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or.