Luis Gonçalves: Coaching Cristiano Ronaldo

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You worked at Sporting Lisbon for many years within the youth set up. You coached a young Cristiano Ronaldo during your time there. Was his talent always evident from a young age?

I worked at Sporting Lisbon for 12 years from 1999 to 2011 and I knew Cristiano Ronaldo well from my time there.

I worked with him when he was in the under 23 side and my colleagues and I that saw him up close knew that he would go on to be a special talent.

From the age of 11 we believed that he would go on to have a top class career provided that he didn’t lose himself. Of course, along the way it was vital that he had the right coaching to challenge and that’s what we aimed to provide for him at Sporting.

Credit: Gordon Flood from Trim, Ireland

He was always a very focused boy who wanted to win everything and be the best that he could be. That’s exactly the same today from him as we can see that at the age of 35, he still has that drive and determination to achieve the maximum of his potential and ability.

Credit: Jan S0L0

Was it obvious that he would become a first team player very young after he arrived in the B team?

Credit: Volare oh oh oh

Yes, he was 16 years old and playing in the B team. The coach László Bölöni wanted him in the first team even at that age. But we felt that it would be too soon for him and he continued to work with us for another six months.

It was a good decision by us and as soon as he arrived in the first team you can see what happened next and what he’s went on to achieve.

How proud are you of the progress he has made in his career for club and country?

I am very proud to see him represent Portugal so well and to see him continue to show his world class talent even now in his mid thirties.

He’s won all that there is to win in the club game as well as all the major individual honours. It was a privilege to coach him.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

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