Former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand has revealed how he used to make Cristiano Ronaldo cry after beating him at ping pong. The two footballers shared a dressing room at Old Trafford for six years during Ronaldo’s tenure at the club from 2003 to 2009, where they won numerous trophies including the Premier League and Champions League.
Ronaldo’s rise to stardom began at United before he moved on to Real Madrid and Juventus, where he became recognised as one of the best players of all time. His competitive edge was nurtured at United, where Sir Alex Ferguson regularly pushed him to the limit. However, it was not just the revered coach who tried to egg him on, as Ferdinand has revealed how he used to wind him up over games of ping pong.
When asked whether the stories were true that Ronaldo could not cope with the table tennis thrashings, Ferdinand quickly confirmed that this was the truth. “Me and a guy called Quinton Fortune – another [Manchester United] teammate – we used to take the mick out of him a lot,” he told Australian radio show Kyle and Jackie O. “He was a lot younger than us at the time – borderline bullying, maybe, but it was just trying to, like, build him, build that resilience. We used to play every other day before training, as part of the warm-up. I used to smash him all over the place. He did beat me … it was me and him, [ranked] one and two, like Federer and Nadal. If it was televised, it would have broken records. He used to, like, almost cry and that, he was so competitive.”
Ferdinand was a huge advocate for Ronaldo’s return at United when he signed for the Red Devils for a second time in 2021. After a decent first campaign where he scored 24 times, the following season was a catastrophe following the arrival of Erik ten Hag. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was reduced to a bit-part role for the first half of the season before launching an astonishing attack on the manager and club in an interview with Piers Morgan. It led to his contract being scrapped as Saudi side Al Nassr snapped him up on a huge contract worth £173million a year.