“This little kid runs at me, and he steps over twice, three times and goes past me, sticks it in the top bin.”
Phil Babb has a story about a training ground encounter he had with Cristiano Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon back in the early 2000s.
Babb played 37 times for Sporting between 2000 and 2002. The former Republic of Ireland defender joined the Portuguese side from Liverpool in 2000 after six seasons on Merseyside.
Babb, who won the league and cup with Sporting, was at the club when Ronaldo was a talented youth player on the fringes of the first-team.
Phil Babb’s story about the time he “knocked out” Ronaldo.
According to the former Coventry City defender, who played 35 times for Ireland, he once “knocked out” Ronaldo in a training match.
Babb was tasked with marking the future-superstar and ended up hitting him with a “forearm chop” to stop him in his tracks.
Ronaldo would sign for Manchester United in 2003. His encounter with Babb was seemingly his first experience of the rough treatment he would receive from defenders in England.
“Firstly, when he came into the dressing room for the first time he was really skinny, had this big mop of hair, a bit like Steve McManaman back then,” Babb said on Sky Sports show Fantasy Football Club in 2016.
“So, we’re doing a training session, and it’s set up as a back four, it’s like attack vs defence. So, all the attackers are coming at you. This little kid runs at me, and he steps over twice, three times and goes past me, sticks it in the top bin.
“And all the lads are like that, ‘Aw, Babbsy, he’s had you off’, in Portuguese – which I won’t try and replicate.
“So, the next time he’s coming at me, step over one way, step over the next, he shoots past me. I forearm chop him, right across – I knock him out!
“So, Ronaldo’s on the floor, and I’m like, ‘Nunca. Nunca mais’ or something – ‘Never more’, or something like that.
“And he’s looking at me, and he doesn’t know what has happened. The training ground’s gone quiet. And I’m just like, ‘Nah’.
“I’ve had a massive influence on his career I think, just from that moment. Needless to say, he went over the other side (during the training game).”
You can watch Babb tell the story below.
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