London:Portugal's European Championship winning captain Cristiano Ronaldo is a "special footballer" of his generation, according to former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. The legendary coach was on hand to witness Ronaldo finally convert his phenomenal club success into international honours as the injured Portugal captain rallied his country from the sidelines to Euro 2016 glory on Sunday against hosts France. And Ferguson insisted that Ronaldo's work rate and hunger -- part of the reason why he brought the forward to Old Trafford as an 18-year-old in 2003 -- is what sets him apart from his contemporaries and makes him the best player of his era. "Every generation has its special footballer, Cristiano is currently. He has an incredible desire for football, Cristiano is looking forward to each workout. He always wants to be better, to win. He especially loves these big games," Ferguson was quoted as saying by German newspaper Bild on Wednesday. "During my time at Manchester United, Cristiano was the player who developed the most. Through much hard work. He constantly worked on his shooting technique, with the right, left, his heading ability, his bounce," the 74-year-old added. Ronaldo was forced off with an anterior cruciate ligament injury after a challenge from Dmitri Payet in the 24th minute as Portugal beat hosts France 1-0 to win the Euro 2016 final at the Stade de France in Paris. "His performance improvement is incredible. And what is remarkable, today's football is so athletic, so fast." "Usually top players can only play for about five or six years at the highest level, then it's over. Cristiano has been doing this for over 10 years. That makes him so exceptional," Ferguson concluded.