Madrid: Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has voiced his admiration for former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson by describing the Scot as his "footballing father".
The Portuguese winger worked under Ferguson at United between 2003 and 2009 and stressed that the 73-year-old was there for him when he needed him most.
The 30-year-old revealed how the legendary manager granted him leave to visit his ailing father.
"When my dad was sick in London and was in hospital - very bad, in a coma - I had a conversation with Ferguson," Ronaldo was quoted as saying by the BBC on Thursday.
"I said, 'Boss, I don't feel good.' We were in a key moment in the league and the Champions League, but I said, 'Boss, I don't feel good. I want to see my dad," he said.
"He (Ferguson) said, 'Cristiano, you want to go one day, two days, one week, you can go. I'm going to miss you here because you know you are important, but your dad comes first."
Ronaldo also revealed that despite his tough and demanding attitude during training and matches, Ferguson was a fatherly figure to a lot of the players.
"He invited everyone to come for lunch, come for tea … an English cup of tea! It was a family with him. He was a football father for me."