Cristiano Ronaldo’s former Manchester United team-mate Tim Howard has outlined what sets the Portuguese apart from the rest of the footballing world.

The goalkeeper signed for United from New York’s Metrostars in the same summer Ronaldo made the move to Old Trafford from Sporting in 2003.

Although Howard left United two years before his team-mate, Ronaldo was already on the path to greatness when the goalkeeper departed in 2007.

Since then, the Portuguese has gone on to earmark himself as one of the world’s greatest ever players before making his triumphant return to Old Trafford this summer.

And even during those early days as a teenager at Carrington, Howard could see a trait in Ronaldo that set him apart from everyone else.

“With Ronaldo, 99 per cent of the population see the fast cars, the yachts, the clothing, the underwear ads,” Howard told the UTD Podcast.

“They see everything, but they don't see what made the man. When I look at this 18-year-old boy coming over, leaving home. You know, you hear about him doing stepovers around the Carrington training ground after training, and that he is so dedicated.

“Yes, you see the abs — that means that you hydrate properly every day of your life, that you eat right every day of your life, that you are in the gym every day of your life. That's a massive sacrifice. Very few people have the ability to do that.

“Oh, by the way, he's also amazing at football, and he works on that too. Most people don't have the insight, they take it for granted that he’s a good footballer who scores all those goals. But he’s worked at it, 24 hours a day for the last 15 years.”

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