When Cristiano Ronaldo first arrived in England as a flap-footed eighteen year-old, he became just as famous for his histrionics as his talent.
The pacy winger picked up a reputation for constantly falling theatrically to the floor and moaning to the ref. His manager knew he need to put a stop to it – and in true Alex Ferguson style, his solution was tough but fair.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, former Manchester United coach Tony Coton said: "Ferguson showed what he thought of this kid Ronaldo by handing him the club's iconic No7 shirt when he signed him in 2003. But just as important was the gaffer's ability to recognise his weaknesses.
"One flaw was his habit of falling to the floor like a rag doll every time he lost a tackle. Sir Alex embarked on a mission to toughen him up. Members of the coaching staff were encouraged to turn a blind eye if they saw Ronaldo being fouled in practice matches and small-sided games."
Ferguson allowed experienced players like Rio Ferdinand and Roy Keane to rough Ronaldo up during training sessions and leave him complaining on the turf.
"These games were intense and no prisoners were taken," added Coton. "Poor Ronaldo didn't know what hit him as team-mates he'd been sharing a joke with him gave him the kind of treatment that was no laughing matter.
"When a free-kick was not forthcoming, he'd throw his hands up in outrage and sit on the turf muttering Portuguese curses while the game continued around him.
"Toughened pros like Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand would lambast him for being soft. It was tough love and slowly but surely, the message began to seep into our winger's consciousness."
Now we finally know why Ronaldo spent the summer of 2005 in the gym: self-preservation.