Cristiano Ronaldo has gone from a wide forward to a number nine during his career, and Jose Mourinho has explained why he made the change in a Copa del Rey final.
Ronaldo burst onto the scene at Sporting and at Manchester United as a wide player, taking on opposition full backs with pace and skill and beating them time and time again.
Eventually the Juventus forward evolved into a more central striker and became even more lethal in front of goal, which has taken him to the verge of breaking the record for the most international goals by any player.
Whilst the five time Ballon d’Or winner playing as a number nine seems pretty obvious to us now, it took a stroke of genius from Mourinho in 2011 to make it a regular thing.
The ‘Special One’ surprised many by naming Ronaldo in the number nine position in the Copa del Rey final in 2011, despite having Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain and Emmanuel Adebayor on the bench.
It paid off, with the Portugal star scoring the only goal of the game in extra time, and Mourinho revealed exactly why he did it, in ‘The Playbook,’ a Netflix documentary.
Cristiano Ronaldo under Jose Mourinho..
This version of Cristiano was unbelievable..
— Real Madrid Analysis (@rmdanalysis) June 12, 2021
It’s not like Ronaldo was well known for his tracking back of full backs, and, during his time at Manchester United, Wayne Rooney often swapped positions with his teammate to do the tracking back.
However the move to take Ronaldo away from Dani Alves and instead let Angel di Maria, Sami Khedira and Marcelo handle the Brazilian was a brilliant decision.
Alves had been important earlier in the season as Barcelona had run wild in the Nou Camp, defeating their fierce rivals 5-0 in a La Liga game
Ronaldo Goal VS Barcelona Copa Del Rey Final 2011.
One Of Ronaldo’s Best Goals Ever. His Ball Timing and Jump Were Super Exact ❤ pic.twitter.com/nLw9u7nDfx
— SamiN🇧🇩 (@Samin_M7) February 2, 2019
Whilst that final 10 years ago was the start of his time as a number nine, it’s fair to say that the 36-year-old has made the position his own over the past decade.
He’s scored 465 goals in the time since the 2010/11 season finished, and become Real Madrid’s all time top scorer in that time.
Whilst Ronaldo might have lost some of his pace down the years, his goal on Saturday evening showed it wasn’t all gone.
Portugal lost 4-2 to Germany in the Euros, but the Juventus star scored an incredible goal by running the length of the pitch in mere seconds.
Featured Image Credit: PA/Netflix