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2017 BALLON D'OR WINNER CRISTIANO RONALDO SAYS THREE MANCHESTER UNITED PLAYERS MADE HIM REALISE

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has paid tribute to three of his former Manchester United teammates who helped make him realise his true potential.

Ronaldo beat competition from Neymar and long-time rival Lionel Messi to his fifth Ballon d’Or crown after spearheading Real Madrid to a Champions League and La Liga double over the 2016/17 season.

During the course of the calendar year the Portugal international – who also won the award last year – has scored 49 goals in 56 appearances.

Ronaldo spent his formative years at Sporting Lisbon before establishing himself as one of the greatest players in Manchester United’s rich history over the course of a six-year period during which Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won nine major honours.

The 32-year-old claims he always knew he was different to his piers but it wasn’t until he arrived at Old Trafford that he became aware of his ability when he didn’t feel out of place alongside three of United’s most established stars, reports Metro.

‘Since I was 14, 15 or 16 years old I knew that I was different from other kids,’ Ronaldo said.

‘I did different things. ‘I realized that I was good at Manchester United, when I played with players like Giggs, Keane or Ferdinand. I had talent.

‘The English mentality is different and those people helped me a lot to be what I am now.

‘I have to thank my colleagues in Manchester.’

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