Mick Clegg, who aided Ronaldo at Manchester United as a power development coach, explains how the forward has mastered his fitness well into his thirties.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been hailed an “absolute genius” by the man who he credits with giving him the template to sustain his glittering career.
Ronaldo turns 37 on Saturday, but has shown no signs of slowing down, having already plundered 14 goals in his second spell at Manchester United.
Despite his age, Ronaldo has the build of a player a decade younger, having kept himself in peak physical condition with a strict fitness and dietary regime.
Mick Clegg, who worked with Ronaldo in his role as United’s power development coach, is convinced the Portugal star can play on until his mid-40s.
“Cristiano is a genius, an absolute genius,” said Clegg. “He learned a lot, in the early days, about how to manage his body.
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“Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, too. He’s got a knowledge of nutrition and he knows how to balance things.
“He knows how to balance his food and he’s consistent in everything he does.
“The only person I’ve found as consistent was Ryan Giggs, which was why he played on until he was 40.
“Cristiano will want to go beyond the 40 mark. He’ll be hoping he can play until his mid-40s.
“He needs to know everything about himself. If he has a niggle, he’ll want to know what that niggle is and will talk to people he knows and trusts.
“He’ll make sure he won’t put himself in danger of having an injury, so he doesn’t self-injure, which is what a lot of players do.
“So he’s always doing the right recovery after games, he’s always doing the injury prevention stuff before training and games.
“With Cristiano, everything is done with precision. When he goes to the dinner table, he doesn’t just eat any old s***.
“He eats what he knows is going to put what he needs into his body. His focus all the time is on getting things right.
“It’s preparation for being the best you can be when match-day comes.
“There’s nobody as dedicated to being as good as he is – that’s why, in my opinion, he’s a genius.”
Clegg said Ronaldo has an eye on management and backed him to take charge of United once his playing days are over, given his enduring affinity with the club.
“He’s working towards being a manager and will want to be the best in the world – just as he did as a player,” said Clegg.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if, at some point, his career carries on through United, with him becoming the manager there.”
Ronaldo paid tribute to Clegg, writing the foreword for a new book, The Power and Glory, written by the 64-year-old about his coaching career.
“In my early days at the club, we had some great conversations where I explained what I wanted to achieve and what I wanted to do better,” said Ronaldo, who works with Clegg’s son, Michael, a former United player who is now the club’s strength and power coach.
“He explained to me exactly how I could do it through work in the gym. So we listened to each other and worked hard together.
“A big part of my success has been how well I have taken care of my body, because if you are in the wrong condition, then you can’t play your best football.
“I put in a lot of work to keep in the best condition I can be in, and a lot of my success in that area stems from what I learnt with Mick.
“I always want to learn and improve and I think Mick feels the same way about his own life.
“He was an incredible coach, a massive help to me and a great character.”
The Power and The Glory by Mick Clegg is out March 17 and available to pre-order now on Amazon.
Click here to pre-order now.