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The 5 greatest managers of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career

Cristiano Ronaldo, managers
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It’s time to talk about the top 5 greatest managers that have played a big part in Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliant career.

Cristiano Ronaldo certainly has had his fair share of different managers throughout his career, with Erik ten Hag being the latest one in line.

The Manchester United star worked under 13 different coaches in his club career, and four for the Portugal national team. Each of them, of course, has always praised him for his outstanding work ethic above all.

So let’s take a look at the five best coaches of the 37-year-old’s career.

Fernando Santos / Portugal (2014 – Present)

fernando santos, cristiano ronaldo
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Santos actually coached a teenage Ronaldo briefly during his Sporting CP days before he made the fatal mistake of playing the youngster against Manchester United in 2003.

“I was the coach when Sporting played United,” said Santos 13 years later.

“I played Cristiano Ronaldo and later wished I hadn’t. A week after [Ricardo] Quaresma left to join Barcelona, then two days later Cristiano Ronaldo was on his way to Manchester.”

But the duo were reunited in 2014 when the Portuguese FA appointed Santos as Paulo Bento’s replacement. 

Ronaldo has since enjoyed his most prolific spell in a Portugal jersey, and won the European championship and Nations League under Santos.

Games: 67 | Goals: 58 | Assists: 11

Zinedine Zidane / Real Madrid (2016 to 2018)

Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo
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When you put Zizou and CR7 together only two things are possible – silverware and loads of goals!

The duo reached heights that were previously unimaginable by leading Real Madrid to three successive Champions League titles. Six other trophies followed, which included one La Liga crown and two FIFA Club World Cups, during a two-and-a-half-year stint.

“Zidane made me feel special,” Ronaldo told DAZN.

“He helped me a lot. I already had a lot of respect for him but working with him made me admire him more. That’s because of what he’s like as a person, how he talks, how he led the team and how he treated me.

“He’d tell me, ‘Cris, relax and just play your game – you are the one who is going to make the difference.’ He was always honest with me and that’s why I’ll always have a real affection for him.”

Games: 114 | Goals: 112 | Assists: 30

Jose Mourinho / Real Madrid (2010 – 2013)

Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo
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Putting the Special One and five-time Ballon d’Or winner together certainly set pulses racing at Real Madrid.

Bust-ups were a common thing, especially during Mourinho’s debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu. In fact, Emmanuel Adebayor recalled how Mourinho ‘killed’ Ronaldo after scoring a hat-trick.

The now-Roma coach upset Ronaldo by constantly employing his ultra-defensive tactics. The player himself confessed it following a Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona in 2011.

However, Mourinho didn’t take kindly to this and dropped Ronaldo from the squad for Los Blancos’ next game. Although he was later made to rue this decision after suffering a shock 3-2 defeat to Real Zaragoza at home.

Eventually agent Jorge Mendes forced the pair to make up.

Compared to the rest of Ronaldo’s managers, though, nobody got more goals out of the 37-year-old than Mourinho.

Games: 164 | Goals: 168 | Assists: 49

Carlo Ancelotti / Real Madrid (2013 – 2015)

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Carletto and Ronaldo enjoyed a superb two years together, which saw the Portuguese win his second Champions League title in 2013/14.

The current Real Madrid boss actually pushed Ronaldo out of his comfort zone by making him play as a center-forward instead of a winger at times. His new playing system, in fact, yielded some great results and was a breath of fresh air from the Mourinho era.

Ancelotti later led Real Madrid to their first-ever Club World Cup title in December 2014 along with a UEFA Super Cup earlier on.

The following season saw Los Galacticos finish just two points behind La Liga champions Barcelona with a league-best of 118 goals.

Games: 101 | Goals: 112 | Assists: 47

Sir Alex Ferguson / Manchester United (2003 – 2009)

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Manchester United’s legendary coach was a father figure for Ronaldo during his early days.

The now-Juventus star even once claimed that Ferguson “taught me everything”, and still keeps in contact with his old boss. 

The Scot installed confidence in Ronaldo right from the start by handing him the iconic No.7 jersey; a shirt the likes of Eric Cantona and David Beckham had previously worn.

Fergie later taught him how to maximize the productiveness of quick feet and ball control skills. Suddenly, the young star could race past defenders in a flash instead of wasting time doing some flashy step-overs.

It’s clear Ferguson made the biggest impact on CR7’s rise to a legend and deserves top spot in the list of Ronaldo’s managers.

Games: 292 | Goals: 118 | Assists: 72