Darren Fletcher has delivered a fascinating insight into how Walter Smith helped transform Cristiano Ronaldo into a scoring machine and one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Smith joined Manchester United in March 2004 as part of Sir Alex Ferguson's backroom staff for a six month spell and came up with an ingenious way of ensuring Ronaldo stopped holding onto the ball for too long.
Smith introduced a punishing 'no foul' rule for training matches, which Fletcher said Ronaldo was 'raging' about before his adaptation helped him evolve to an unprecedented level.
Darren Fletcher has revealed Walter Smith's impact on Cristiano Ronaldo at Man United
In his early days at United, Ronaldo had a habit of keeping hold of the ball for too long in games
Smith introduced a 'No Foul' rule in training that led to Ronaldo sharpening up his play
Speaking to the Lockdown Tactics, Fletcher said: 'Listen, he had a tough time as well in the dressing room. There were times he was holding on to the ball too much and his decision-making wasn't there yet. He had a tough time, he got told a few home truths.
'But he could deal with it, he was a big personality. The growth in the space of a few years in terms of his personal training, gym, he just became this absolute monster of a dedicated professional. And there's no doubt that environment at Manchester United helped him as well.'
But it was the arrival of Smith, Fletcher said, that really accelerated helped Ronaldo's transformation.
'Walter came in and he basically decided to not give fouls in training. I know it was definitely for Ronaldo,' Fletcher revealed. 'The boys were flying into each other and Ronnie was getting lumps kicked out of him.
'Before, you wouldn't get soft fouls but you would get a foul - he'd be taking the mick, draw a foul, win it, laugh, get the ball.
'So Walter just decided there were no fouls now in training. Ronaldo for two weeks was going bananas, 'who's this Scottish guy? What is