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Figo: Boos made Man Utd's Ronaldo world class

Figo insists no sportsman has ever had to face the kind of hatred he suffered when he returned to Barcelona's Nou Camp after a £37million move to arch-rivals Real Madrid in 2000.

But Figo reckons Ronaldo travelled a similar path last season, starting out the campaign as the reviled World Cup winker and ending it as the Premier League's outstanding player.

Ronaldo faces Chelsea in tomorrow's Community Shield with praise ringing out from the player he once idolised and then replaced in the Portugal team.

Figo, now with Italian champions Inter Milan, told The Sun: "I think what happened to me in the Nou Camp was a bit worse than what Ronaldo went through.

"In fact, I don't think any athlete in the world has ever had to cope with an atmosphere like I did that night.

"But if you can focus on your job and do well when you go through things like that, it is a good experience and it makes you more strong.

"What happened at Barcelona made me stronger.

"It was a very, very hard year for me when I moved to Real Madrid, not just because of that game but all the changes I made in my life.

"But, at the end, I was very satisfied because Real won the league and I think I was a much better player because of everything I went through.

"It was the same for Cristiano here last season.

"Ronaldo just concentrated on his football. It's hard to play when the crowd is against you but if you concentrate on your work and you have the quality you can succeed."

Figo, 34, also believes Ronaldo has benefited from cutting down on the diving antics which so often marred his displays of dazzling dribbling and full-back tormenting.

He said: "It's normal that Ronaldo has learned and improved.

"Not going down so much was one of the things Cristiano had to improve to make him a better player. He has done that."

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Tribal Football Staff

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