Raphael Varane recounted the occasion he snapped at Cristiano Ronaldo in Real Madrid training for not calling him by his first name, though he insists he was not disrespectful to the Portugal great.
France international Varane has been at Madrid for almost nine years, having joined from Lens as a highly rated teenager.
As such, the centre-back was a long-time team-mate of Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu, before the former Manchester United forward left for Juventus in 2018.
Ronaldo is known for his often-intense personality and commitment in training, and Varane reminisced about the time he bit back at Los Blancos’ then-talisman.
“‘Varane, go into the middle,’” Ronaldo is said to have barked, to which Varane claims he replied: “I’m not Varane, I’m Rapha!”
But the 26-year-old says he was not showing Ronaldo a lack of respect, rather showing a bit of character.
— Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) December 30, 2019
“It was not disrespectful,” Varane told Onze Mondial. “I am super nice, I am great, even in the dressing room. I am also quite shy.
“But when there are difficult times or when you have to show your character, you can count on me. The players who have known me for a while know this.
“Of course, it’s not the aspect of my character that you see the most or that you see first. It was not a matter of respect or disrespect, it was just a matter of, ‘If I’m not seen, I’m not considered much.’
“After that it was more like: ‘Oh, I am also here, I also have a name.’ It was more like that.”
Any issues with Ronaldo start and end there, however, with Varane lavishing his former colleague with praise for his achievements.
“He’s great, great, on a human level – and on a footballing level, I don’t even have words anymore,” Varane said.
“He’s accomplished something extraordinary: he made his incredible achievements seem banal.
“And to do that… there are no words to explain it, it’s huge, it’s extraordinary. He taught me a lot and also surprised me. How many times have I said to myself: ‘Wow, this is incredible.’”