RUUD VAN NISTELROOY told Cristiano Ronaldo he belonged in a circus during Manchester United training.
Red Devils legend Rio Ferdinand recalled the Dutchman's jibe and also revealed Man Utd's players would tell Ronnie he was 'not the real No 7'.
Ronaldo, 35, signed for United from Sporting Lisbon as a little know teenager and left for Real Madrid six years later for a world-record £80million.
But it was not all plain-sailing at United with Van Nistelrooy frequently annoyed with the Portuguese superstar's perceived showboating.
However, Ferdinand believes one incident actually helped Ronaldo become one of the greatest players in history.
Ferdinand said on BT Sport: "It didn't happen instantly but he was unbelievably skillful and he was there to entertain the crowd.
"He loved doing skills. He used to get snapped in training but I remember one time, I think it was a good moment for him but he didn't take it too well.
"Ruud was the man at United at the time. He was the man who scored all the goals.
"Ronaldo had the ball wide and was doing tricks and Ruud was making the run in the box, Ronaldo didn't pass and Ruud went crazy, screaming.
"'He should be in the circus, he shouldn't be on the pitch', Ruud said and walked in, off the training pitch, and Ronaldo got upset and angry – 'why is he talking to me like that?'.
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"He was 18 or 19 at the time. Some kids would've gone under and lost confidence.
"Some would've kept doing the same but Ronaldo knew that Ruud might be right and then it became all about numbers, about statistics, goals. What is going to make him the best player in the world?"
And Ferdinand revealed the rest of the Red Devils' squad would also pile on to Ronnie who flourished under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The former England international added: "We used to take the mick out of him and say 'you are not the real No 7 at the club, you've got George Best and Beckham' and you could see him thinking, 'how can I derail them?'"
Last year Louis Saha revealed Van Nistelrooy once made Ronaldo cry shortly after the death of Ronnie's father.
And despite their clashes, in 2019, Ronaldo named the Dutchman as one of his biggest inspirations despite having come to blows.
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