A man who started his professional career mingling with superstars at Old Trafford believes an English midfielder was superior to a Portuguese forward

Cristiano Ronaldo sat behind Paul Scholes in the pecking order of talent at Manchester United, claims former Red Devils defender Jonathan Spector.

England international midfielder Scholes was already an established star at the top of the game when Portuguese forward Ronaldo arrived at Old Trafford in 2003.

Ronaldo would go on to claim the first of five Ballon d’Or successes during his time with United, while savouring Premier League and Champions League triumphs.

He is, however, considered to have operated in the shadow of Scholes when it comes to all-round natural ability.

A man who spent his entire senior career with the Red Devils set the benchmark in Manchester, with United States international Spector one of the fortunate few to have worked with two iconic figures and found himself in a position to pass judgement on both.

The 33-year-old, who recently linked up with Scottish side Hibernian, told the Daily Record of the superstar performers he once shared a dressing room with: “I have also been incredibly fortunate to play with some of the best players who have ever played the game — and to learn from them.

“It would be easy to say the best was Cristiano Ronaldo but, to be honest, I’d have to say Paul Scholes.

“He was always a step ahead of me but it felt like he was a step ahead of everyone else on the pitch.

“He was incredibly humble too. But that’s something I always found at Manchester United. On my first day I came out of the reserve changing room and I ran into Ruud van Nistelrooy.

“He came up to me to introduce himself — I was like, ‘I know exactly who you are! I should be introducing myself to you!’ But all the guys at United were like that. They were really down to earth, nice individuals and that’s one of the reasons that club was so successful.”

Spector, who has 36 caps for the USA, spent three years on the books at Old Trafford after arriving in the same summer as Ronaldo.

He would eventually move on to West Ham, rather than Real Madrid, and took in just eight senior appearances for the Red Devils which all came during the 2004-05 campaign.

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