Cristiano Ronaldo is a “monster” who was “born with natural talent”, says Fabio Coentrao, with a former Real Madrid and Portugal team-mate of a modern-day great not surprised to have seen remarkable standards maintained.
A five-time Ballon d’Or winner is showing no sign of slowing down despite now being 35 years of age.
His stunning skill set continues to be embraced at Serie A champions Juventus, with major silverware having been delivered at the likes of Manchester United, Madrid and now Juve.
"I often wish other people could have had a chance to work with him to see how close he is," said Coentrao, the two-time La Liga title winner.
"He's a monster, a great friend, and a great person. He was born with natural talent and worked very hard to become the best in the world."
Coentrao has never reached the heights of Real that Ronaldo has managed, but the Portuguese defender remains proud of what he has achieved at the highest level.
A man with 52 international caps on his name said about his time in Spain: "I had to go to other clubs to show my work, and then I got to Real Madrid, the best club in the world.
"But that's not for all of us. I've been there for seven years, with a contract that was renewed in the middle of that time. I won 15 titles or more. It speaks for itself, and it's a matter of pride."
Coentrao is now back in Portugal, with an emotional return to his roots in Rio Ave.
"I'm just thinking about working every day, knowing that it's not easy after such a long break, my family is proud of my career," said Coentrao, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
"When I was 13 years oldest, my parents had to emigrate, and I was alone. At that time, Rio Ave helped me a lot because I was just a young boy."