‘Perfectionist’ Cristiano Ronaldo the best example for young players – Portugal boss Martínez

Roberto Martínez has been recounting his first meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo after taking the Portugal job last year, where he says the Seleção captain demonstrated his unquestionable hunger to keep playing for his country.

Martínez was appointed Portugal manager last January and Ronaldo has remained a central figure ever since. Speaking to Rio Ferdinand’s FIVE podcast, the Spaniard was asked about his first encounter with Ronaldo ahead of European Championship qualifiers last March.

“When you take an international job, you take the responsibility of almost grand respect for what the player has done in the previous years,” Martínez said. “You need to give respect to players who have given service to the national team. With Cristiano, I needed to know where he was [mentally] after twenty years service to the national team. He was the only player who had the opportunity to reach 200 international games, so we’re talking about something that is going to affect the next 3-4 generations of Portuguese footballers coming through.

“So my conversation [with him] was quite open and easy, and was to straight away find out how he felt. What I realised, which makes him so different to others, he’s got that hungriness. Normally a player retires in the head when he feels something is not going on. In his case, he was ready to give whatever the national team needed. It was a very good conversation, I could see that he was ready to be important and to fight for his place.

“Sometimes we speak with the staff and you couldn’t tell he’s 39 and won everything. He comes into training and there’s a meaning to everything he does. He wants to take advantage of every moment to prepare himself.

“You don’t get a better example for a young player than someone who has played 200 international games and is still the last player to leave the training ground, using every aspect of nutrition, body preparation, injury prevention to the limit.

“Those are the aspects that make you a perfectionist.  That influence rubs off well beyond what he can do on the pitch.”

By @SeanGillen9