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Saha revealed the players clashed in training soon after the death of Ronaldo’s father in 2005.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Saha explained Van Nistelrooy was the senior striker in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad, and the Dutchman carried an ego as part of his make up:
“Ruud had that kind of ego: he wanted all the passes, and sometimes, for the development of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, it was difficult for the manager to deal with.
“Did Ruud make Ronaldo cry? Yeah, there were stories because I think they ended up in an argument at the moment when Cristiano’s father had passed away, so it wasn’t the right moment. Things like that happen when two players have lots of spirit, but I’m sure Ruud regrets some of his words.”
Van Nistelrooy spent five years under Ferguson before moving to Real Madrid in 2006. The Dutchman departed Los Blancos one season after Ronaldo’s 2009 arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
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Ronaldo’s development at United was initially steady. However, a breakout campaign in 2006-07 saw Ferguson’s team win three consecutive Premier League titles with the Portuguese leading the attack.
The winger went on to collect the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2008-09 after United won the UEFA Champions League.
Saha added he recognised Ronaldo’s talent early, but it was the player’s work ethic that allowed him to become one of the greatest of all time.
“You could see from when he was 18 or 19 that this guy was not normal.
“These players who have all the ability recognise that it’s also about working harder than anyone – not just talent. The top seeds in tennis don’t hit the ball better or have better technique; no, they work harder than anyone, and Cristiano did that.”
At 34, Ronaldo remains one of the biggest draws in the game after joining Juventus, and the forward added the Serie A title to his list of career achievements last term.
Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick for Portugal on Thursday during the 6-0 demolition of Lithuania in UEFA 2020 European Championship qualifying, giving the icon his 98th goal for his country after 168 caps.