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Rio Ferdinand backs Man United star Cristiano Ronaldo to play into his forties at top level

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Cristiano Ronaldo will be ‘very disappointed’ if he doesn’t play at the highest level into his forties, says Rio Ferdinand, as heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua praises Man United’s returning hero for ‘going against the grain’ during stellar career

  • Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to start his second spell at Manchester United
  • Portuguese star, 36, could feature against Newcastle United on Saturday 
  • United legend Rio Ferdinand believes Ronaldo will want to play beyond 40
  • Ferdinand witnessed Ronaldo’s dedication first-hand as a United team-mate
  • Anthony Joshua praised Ronaldo for ‘going against the grain’ in his career


Rio Ferdinand says Cristiano Ronaldo will be ‘very disappointed’ if he isn’t still performing at the highest level when he reaches the age of 40.

The Portuguese star, 36, is poised to play the first action of his second spell at Manchester United and could feature when they take on Newcastle on Saturday afternoon.

And former United defender Ferdinand expects him to emulate the likes of Ryan Giggs and Teddy Sheringham by playing well into his next decade.

Cristiano Ronaldo is greeted by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after returning to Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo is greeted by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after returning to Manchester United

The Portuguese star, 36, has been working hard in training ahead of his second spell at United

The Portuguese star, 36, has been working hard in training ahead of his second spell at United

United legend Rio Ferdinand (left) and heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (right) have praised Ronaldo for his dedication to being the best he can be

United legend Rio Ferdinand (left) and heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (right) have praised Ronaldo for his dedication to being the best he can be

‘If Ronaldo doesn’t get to 40 and isn’t playing at the top level he’ll be very disappointed,’ Ferdinand said in conversation with heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for William Hill.

‘I think Giggsy and Sheringham got to 40 but Ronaldo needs to be the main man and he won’t want it any other way.’

Ferdinand played alongside Ronaldo during his first spell at United – as well as being his neighbour – and witnessed first-hand his extraordinary dedication to being the best.

‘You’ve got to be brave. People never talk about Cristiano’s bravery,’ he said.

‘He took risks, like coming to another country at a young age. He always stayed the same person too, he never changed for people, he just adapted and that in itself is brave.

Ronaldo celebrates with Ferdinand after scoring a goal during his first spell at Man United

Ronaldo celebrates with Ferdinand after scoring a goal during his first spell at Man United

The pair celebrate after Manchester United won the Premier League title in 2006-07

The pair celebrate after Manchester United won the Premier League title in 2006-07 

‘Ronaldo was a visionary. When at United, he built a team around himself. I went round to his house one day and there were six or seven people in his living room.

‘I asked who they were and it was his personal masseuse, nutritionist, physio, doctor, chef. No one else was going that then.

‘People were laughing at him at the time for doing extras but when he won the Ballon d’Or [in 2008], everyone started copying him.’

Joshua, who is set to defend his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight title belts against Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25, replied: ‘That’s what I find interesting about him, that goes back to being brave because when you have that vision, it doesn’t always sit right with everyone.

‘You know what people say, “why’s he got that extra physio? Why doesn’t he eat at the club like everyone else?”

Heavyweight champion Joshua praised Ronaldo for 'going against the grain' in his career

Heavyweight champion Joshua praised Ronaldo for ‘going against the grain’ in his career

‘Does it go against the grain? Sometimes you have to go against the grain.’

Ferdinand added: ‘Cristiano is a disruptor. Disruptors in the right way make waves, they’re remembered and they’re not forgotten.

‘When I listen to you speak, there’s very big similarities with when I speak to Cristiano. Like when we’re on a Zoom call he will have objects in the background and says “that’s for the energy in the room.”

‘This guy is just different, he looks for every detail that’ll give him the edge.

‘He does mad stuff – he sent me a picture recently after driving two hours to do a deep water recovery session in the sea when he was in Turin.

‘Other people are at home just having dinner, Cristiano is looking for that extra edge.’

Anthony Joshua and Rio Ferdinand are William Hill ambassadors

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