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How a Red Card Helped Cristiano Ronaldo Win the Ballon d’Or

Wanna know something crazy? Cristiano Ronaldo’s transformation into a goal-scoring machine began with a red card.

Yep, you read that right. That infamous sending-off against Portsmouth in 2007 was actually the start of Ronaldo leveling up his game big time.

Still don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you.

The Training Plan That Made Cristiano Ronaldo a Goal-Scoring Machine

Why was Ronaldo sent off? 

In August 2007, Manchester United were playing against Portsmouth.

Towards the end of the 1-1 draw, Cristiano Ronaldo got into a little fight with Portsmouth’s Scottish midfielder Richard Hughes.

During the scuffle, Ronaldo seemed to lean his head towards Hughes.

Hughes then made a big deal out of that little contact. That likely made the referee Steve Bennett show Ronaldo the red card.

It was a harsh decision – and United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson was furious!

But the call was made, and Ronaldo had to miss United’s next three Premier League games against Manchester City, Tottenham, and Sunderland.

There was an international break between the Tottenham and Sunderland matches. So Ronaldo wouldn’t play a competitive game for over a month!

He didn’t have to travel with the team or attend most training sessions during his ban. Ronaldo was basically a free man during that time.

Many players might have felt sorry for themselves after getting such a harsh red card.

But not Cristiano Ronaldo.

What did Ronaldo do after getting sent off? 

After that red card incident, Ronaldo was banned for three matches. Instead of moping around, he used that time off brilliantly.

He did the most Cristiano thing, he trained even more.

During one of these training sessions, Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant Ren√© Meulensteen approached him and asked: “How many goals do you think you will score this season?”

To which Ronaldo replied “30, seven more than last season”

But Meulensteen told him he could score 40 goals. According to him, Ronaldo focused too much on scoring amazing goals instead of just scoring more goals.

And Thus the transformation of Ronaldo began.

Meulensteen had a mastermind plan. He made Ronaldo study footage of legendary strikers like Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy. The goal? To understand the positioning, movement, and finishing that made them so lethal.

Once the video analysis was done, they hit the training pitch.

Meulensteen devised specialized drills just for Ronaldo. He created a “map” of the pitch divided into zones based on angles to the goal.

There were drills for scoring from different zones – directly in front, from the sides, from wide areas. In each zone, there were nine sub-zones representing areas of the goal to aim for.

It was like having a customized goalscoring blueprint!

Ronaldo was absolutely hooked. Meulensteen recalls the Portuguese waiting eagerly outside his office for sessions.

During that one-month ban period, it’s estimated Ronaldo took an insane 5,000 shots in training!

Meulensteen observed a mindset shift in Ronaldo. He went from wanting to score “goal of the season” type screamers to craving to be a pure “goal-scoring machine”.

The numbers prove Meulensteen’s plan was a game-changer. We’ll get to those stats next.

How Much Did Ronaldo Improve After the Red Card?

Before that fateful red card against Portsmouth, Ronaldo’s goalscoring record at Manchester United was decent but unspectacular.

In his first 196 games, he scored 50 goals at a rate of 1 every 3.9 matches.

But look what happened after he returned from that one-month ban dedicated to goalscoring training.

Between the 2007/08 season and his United departure in 2009, Ronaldo banged in 68 goals in just 96 appearances!

That’s a goal ratio of 1 every 1.4 games – a hugely significant improvement. The training had immediately supercharged his scoring output.

In the 2007/08 campaign itself, an unstoppable Ronaldo blasted 42 goals across all competitions.

He won the European Golden Boot as the continent’s top scorer. He was the Premier League’s top scorer too and also the Champions League’s highest marksman.

His inspirational form powered United to a Premier League and Champions League double that season. And it culminated in Ronaldo winning his first Ballon d’Or – the most prestigious individual honor.

All thanks to that red card enforced break followed by Meulensteen’s specialized goalscoring blueprint!

Without it, who knows if Ronaldo developed into the prolific marksman we know today.


How did Ronaldo win his first Ballon d Or?

Cristiano Ronaldo won his first Ballon d’Or at the age of 23 in 2008.

He won the Premier League and Champions League double that season with Manchester United and scored 42 goals in all competitions.

How many red cards has CR7 received?

Cristiano Ronaldo has received 12 red cards in his career, 4 while playing for Manchester United, 6 while playing Real Madrid, once for Juventus, and once in Al Nassr.

Who got more red cards Messi or Ronaldo?

Cristiano Ronaldo has more red cards than Lionel Messi in their career.

In fact Cristiano Ronaldo (12) has been sent off 4 times more than Lionel Mess (3).


Cristiano Ronaldo’s transformation from a tricky winger into an ultra-consistent goalscoring machine is incredible.

It goes to show that even world-class athletes can elevate their game through the right training and mindset changes.

Sometimes the unlikeliest events, like a harsh red card, can turn into massive positives with the right approach. Ronaldo used that ban period to absorb specialized coaching and focus purely on the science of scoring goals.

Looking at his scoring stats before and after clearly shows the impact. Ronaldo went from a “one goal every 4 games” player to an outrageous “one goal every 1.4 games” level.

That newfound goalscoring prowess led to team successes like the 2007/08 Premier League and Champions League triumphs.

More importantly, it powered Ronaldo’s first Ballon d’Or win and launched him towards greatness.

What do you think?

Written by Mith Panchal

Welcome to my corner of the internet, where my love for football meets the art of storytelling. I'm Mith Panchal,I make memes and write blogs here at tacklefrombehind. Most importantly I’m a crazy football addict just like you guys.

My journey in Football started in 2012 because I liked how Cristiano Ronaldo played in FIFA so out of curiosity I watched a few games of Real Madrid and Cristiano and since that day I've been a proud Madridista.

I think that every football game, every football team, and every player has a story to tell. I like to explore those stories and share the best of them with you guys through these blogs.

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