RIO FERDINAND has told Anthony Joshua to learn from Cristiano Ronaldo’s “bravery” ahead of his fight with Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua will defend his WBO, IBF and WBA heavyweight titles against the Ukrainian at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this Saturday.
And the 31-year-old Watford-born boxer sat down with former Manchester United defender Ferdinand in a William Hill interview ahead of the clash.
Joshua asked Ferdinand, 42, who the best player he played with and he replied: “Obviously Cristiano is just ridiculous.
“When he joined us he was a baby, but his intelligence to grow, his obsession to get better and his desire to be the best was just relentless.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, just a man possessed to get to the top and would do anything to get there.”
Joshua then questioned: “What can I learn as an athlete with characters trying to get better at what they do?”
Rio answered: “I think you’ve gotta be brave – people never talk about Cristiano’s bravery.
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“He was brave to take risks, he came over to another country. He was brave to remain the person that he was, and didn’t change really.
“He became obsessed with the sport that he chose and then drilled down into details which was building a team around himself.
“I went round his house one time and I walked in and he had about six/seven people siting in his front room. I said to him, ‘Cris, who are all these people, man?’
“He was like, ‘That’s my personal masseur, my nutritionist, my doctor, my physio, my chef.’
“He had all these people and back then no one was doing that. He was a visionary in that sense.
“He’s just looking for every little detail that’s going to enable him to improve.
“He’ll send me a picture and he’s doing deep water recovery sessions in the sea. He’s driven two hours to get there when he was in Turin with Juventus.
“Other people are at home or out at dinner. He’s just looking for that extra edge.”
Ronaldo, 37, returned to United this summer 12 years after leaving for Real Madrid for a then world-record fee.
And the heavyweight champ believes his return to Old Trafford will pile pressure on the Portuguese superstar.
He said: “That’s what I find interesting, him joining Man United is a tough ask, it’s a lot of pressure that he’s gonna be under.”
And Ferdinand responded: “I don’t think he feels pressure you know.
“He expects it now, that’s pressure straight away he’s put on himself. He’s not dodging that question, ‘I’ve come here to win trophies. If I don’t, it’s a disappointment.’
“But it’s different in boxing, you can’t have a little last dance.”
AJ laughed: “It’s like me having two pints and laying flat on the floor after getting knocked out. There ain’t no last dance.
“That’s the mental thing with boxing. If you have got your last dance in your mind, you’ve gotta give everything you’ve got.
“What I think when you’re saying all this stuff with Ronaldo, like the chef, in my head it seems like a perfect world, he must have had it nice.
“But it’s because when you face that adversity, you’ve lived in this comfort putting yourself at every advantage that you can. So when you’re in adversity you can pull yourself out at the last minute.
“For me, hearing all that stuff, I’m not looking at it like, ‘He lived a happy life, chef, masseuse.’
“He just knew how tough it was and he wanted to pull himself out of those tough times, so he went the extra mile.
“Being great is having to go that extra mile time and time again.”
Anthony Joshua and Rio Ferdinand are William Hill ambassadors. WilliamHill.com. 18+ BeGambleAware