In so many ways, Cristiano Ronaldo reminds me of Michael Jordan. He's one of the most remarkable players and individuals we've had in sports, and he's still going. But it's not just his ability on the field. I've really admired his metamorphosis, how he's changed his game over the years.
Early Ronaldo is like early Michael. With Jordan, people thought of him as this super exciting, brash gunslinger. Michael always called his shot. But like Ronaldo, Jordan learned to win. He learned he needed to conform to the team. That's when Michael became the greatest player of all time, in my eyes. As Jordan got older, he became much more economical and efficient, and that's exactly what Ronaldo has done. On the pitch, he's learned how to make his play—less explosive in individual movements—more successful for the team, and in that, I see the greatness of Jordan.
Before I go too far, let me say this: Lionel Messi is my favorite player and is, I believe, the greatest footballer of all time. But especially in the past year, Ronaldo's greatness is unrivaled even by Messi.
The thing I've come to admire most about Ronaldo is that he's a great athlete, not just in his performance on the field but also in his athletic tools. When he first came to Manchester United from Sporting CP in 2003, he was a skinny kid with incredible speed and coordination—a dribbler, somebody who ran at people to take them on. He'd cross balls in the box or try to create lanes for himself to have a shot. As he's gone on in his career and played with Real Madrid, he's evolved beyond that, treating his body and his craft with all the passion and energy it takes to be at the top of the game—a quality I respect above all others in an athlete.