Carlo Ancelotti: Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is 'a pleasure to manage'
Carlo Ancelotti has described Cristiano Ronaldo as a leader and someone who cares about the team following a series of incidents at the European Championship that have reflected badly on the Portugal captain.
After their opening game, a 1-1 draw with Iceland in which he failed to score, Ronaldo accused Portugal's opponents of being "lucky" and "small" and his frustrations continued as he missed a penalty and had a goal ruled out for offside in the goalless draw with Austria.
Ahead of Portugal's final Group F match against Hungary, a 3-3 draw in which Ronaldo opened his Euro 2016 account with two goals, the player took umbrage at a reporter's line of questioning and threw his microphone into a lake.
But Ancelotti, who managed Ronaldo for two seasons at Real Madrid and won the club's 10th European Cup with him, presented an alternative take on the 31-year-old in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
He said: "You see a different kind of Cristiano Ronaldo when you are the manager of his team. The rest of the world has become obsessed with the image and the look of the man, or how he celebrates when he scores, or how he reacts when things go wrong. I just saw a guy who always wanted to do his best.
"Ronaldo cared about the team. He liked to be with his teammates after the game had finished and talk through what had happened -- what had gone well, what had been not so good. He also liked to joke, too. We had a lot of fun over those two years. Even when you play for Real Madrid, and even when the world expects you to score every game, that does not mean that you can't have a joke sometimes."
Ancelotti continued: "He is a pleasure to manage. We all know about the work he puts in to be so strong and his perfectionism on the training ground when it comes to technique. He also understands that a lot about being a top footballer, with the demands of the modern game, is about recovery. It is what you do in between the games that counts for so much. He would talk to our medical staff all the time, he would try to figure out what he needed."
Of Ronaldo's relationship with Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, Ancelotti believes the pair have pushed one another to achieve greatness through their competitive spirit.
He said: "I always get asked about Lionel Messi and how Cristiano regards him. The truth is, we did not spend all our days at Madrid talking about Messi.
"Cristiano respects Messi; he respects him a lot. In a way I think they need one another. Each one pushes the other to new heights, to new records of goalscoring. Ronaldo signed for Manchester United in 2003 and played his first international tournament in 2004. Twelve years on he is still the biggest European star. That's incredible.
"Were it not for the other, one of Cristiano or Messi would probably have won the Ballon d'Or eight times, rather than three for one and five for the other. Or perhaps they would not have flown so high without the other pushing them on. As a manager it was a pleasure to be in charge of Ronaldo."