A Premier League veteran referee has revealed how he attempted to get inside Cristiano Ronaldo’s head to prevent him from collapsing during his first spell at Manchester United.
Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has revealed how he reduced Cristiano Ronaldo’s proclivity to collapsing during the superstar’s early days at Manchester United.
Ronaldo joined United as a teenager from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.
Ronaldo developed into one of football’s best players under Sir Alex Ferguson’s watchful eye before leaving for Real Madrid in a then-record £80 million deal.
Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford for a second stint with United in the summer, but he was a completely different player.
However, during his first spell at United, Ronaldo developed a reputation for diving and was frequently chastised for his proclivity to throw himself to the ground.
Although Ronaldo has eliminated the majority of his antics, he has been accused of taking the occasional tumble in the Premier League this season.
He was chastised for collapsing so easily in a clash with West Ham’s Kurt Zouma earlier this season.
But, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at the launch of its 5-A-Side bet on Chelsea v Liverpool, Halsey revealed how he got inside Ronaldo’s head before a match.
And the former referee, who worked in the Premier League for over 14 years, revealed that he’d even jokingly warn Ronaldo to stay on his feet before the game.
“You can’t afford to be star-struck when you’re refereeing,” Halsey explained. “When you cross that white line, you’re only refereeing 22 players. It makes no difference who they are.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was a pleasure to watch up close. When comparing him to Lionel Messi, I think you have to go with Ronaldo – simply because he’s done it in every league. For me, he’s a far better all-around player.
“I’ve always gotten along well with Cristiano; I recall one particular game at Anfield between Liverpool and Manchester United. After tossing the coin, I hand it over to the fourth official, who was standing on the halfway line.
“That was in the mid-naughties, when he first came over. I recall walking past him and saying, ‘don’t take it easy today, because you’re getting nothing from me!’
“I phrased it slightly differently, but you understand what I’m saying. He simply smiled when he saw me.
“He goes down five minutes into the game – I’m not having it; I allow play to continue, I pass him, and say, ‘what did I say to you?!’ And he was fantastic afterwards!”