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Cristiano Ronaldo has not been given fouls in Manchester United training to get him toughened up for the Premier League.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is expected to make his second debut for the club against Newcastle at Old Trafford, returning after 12 years away.
While the 36-year-old brings major title-winning experience and a bundle of goals, some have questioned if he will cope with the physicality of the English top-flight.
Ronaldo returns to United from Juventus, having played in Serie A for three years – a league described as “not physical” by talkSPORT pundit Simon Jordan.
But Eric Djemba-Djemba, who arrived the same year as the Portuguese superstar but left two years later, says the forward has been taking some extra hits in training to prepare for the Premier League.
Speaking toBritishGambler.co.uk, the 40-year-old said: “Apparently, all the fouls on Ronaldo in training wouldn’t be given to toughen him up. Do you remember that?
“I do remember that and it’s true. No fouls would be given against Cristiano in training. That was a big part of getting him to become the player he is today.”
Ronaldo is hailed around the world for his incredible physique at 36 years old, fuelled by an intense training regime and strict diet.
But Djemba-Djemba revealed that he did like a trip to a favourite chicken shop in Britain, adding: “Every day, he would arrive first so that he could go to the gym before training, then after training he’d want to go to the gym again!
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“Sometimes I’d say ‘Cristiano, let’s go back home’, because sometimes we’d drive to training together and I’d drive him or he would drive me, and we’d go to eat at a restaurant.
“He introduced me to Nandos, and we’d go and have food together – he loved the chicken there and I’d have spicy chicken.”
Djemba-Djemba was brought in as a future replacement for Roy Keane but struggled to find consistent form under Sir Alex Ferguson.
But the Cameroonian did have a strong bond with Ronaldo, continuing: “We’d often watch movies together, we liked to eat together, and went shopping together either to Deansgate of The Trafford Centre, and just be tourists in Manchester!
“We’d watch games together at his house and we’d see his mum, dad and sister at the house.
“We didn’t play video games as I didn’t know how to play, but as much football as we would watch together, I never saw him play FIFA on the PlayStation.
“We’d watch loads of Premier League football at either mine or his house.”
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Manchester United FC
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