Cristiano Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d'Or on Thursday but the Real Madrid striker was quick to acknowledge the role that Manchester United played in the early stages of his career, as he thanked his former teammates for helping him become the player he is today.
The 32-year-old equalled Messi's tally of five Ballon d'Or's after a season which saw the Real Madrid star clinch a La Liga and Champions League double following his European Championship triumph with Portugal in 2016.
Ronaldo spent six-years of his career with Manchester United, where he went on to win three Premier League titles before securing a lucrative move to Real Madrid for £80m in 2009, which at the time made him the most expensive player in history.
The striker spoke highly of the wisdom and experience which the likes of Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Rio Ferdinand bestowed upon him, boosting his confidence as a result.
For a guy that apparently does everything wrong,only scores penalties,is a tapin merchant, dives, constant media criticism, Ronaldo has got some incredible mental strength to catch up to the guy that does no wrong in Messi. To be his equal. When all anyone’s done is criticize— All For United🔴 (@allforunited) December 8, 2017
He said, via the Mirror: "Since I was 14, 15 or 16 years old I knew that I was different from other kids.
"I did different things. I realised that I was good at Manchester United, when I played with players like Giggs, Keane or Ferdinand. I had talent.
"The English mentality is different and those people helped me a lot to be what I am now. I have to thank my colleagues in Manchester."
As Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continue to hold a 10-year strong stranglehold on the Ballon d'Or, the 32-year-old revealed he is eager to continue the trend for years to come.
He added: "I hope to play at this level for a few more years, I hope the battle with Messi continues, things happen for a reason. I feel good this season and we'll see what we win at the end of the year."