Athletic Bilbao’s Iraola skill against Manchester United – It’s Simply Ball Mastery & Repetition!

Manchester United have not only been knocked out of Europe but were outclassed by a classy Spanish side that everyone is talking about!  I'm not going to jump on the band wagon of talking about Llorente or Muniain but the defender, Iraola.  It was he who produced a moment of brilliance that made the United back line, including Rio Ferdinand, look like idiots.  Dare I say it but it looked like George Best dancing around players & sticking them on their backsides!

Now I am a massive United fan but I'll be honest, I wanted to see that ball hit the back of the net as the skill was unbelievable!  To really know what I'm talking about here is the run.  Anybody reading my blog will know how critical I am of how some grassroots coaches have not evolved.  Over the years & many clubs visits across Europe I pick up a number of fresh ideas.  Funny enough I am going to use an example of how Iraola's skill came about through a Manchester United coach...

Manchester United coach, Rene Meulensteen, originally arrived at the club to work as the skills coach.  Sir Alex Ferguson was that impressed with the Dutch man he got him to work with the first team players.  It was this role that he worked a lot with Cristiano Ronaldo.  The work he carried out with Ronaldo was practiced by all United Academy players.  Because the feet are the most distant part of the body from the brain, players need to learn, through repetition, to operate them without thinking, through instinct or improvisation.  I took this concept & tweaked to suit my players.  We call it the Ronaldo 7 - 7 different moves with the ball stationary.  This improves speed of mind & feet through repetition & ball mastery.

I carry this out at nearly all my classes as a warm up.  While many teams take their players for a warm up by doing laps around the pitch shouting out, 'right hand down', 'left hand down', 'up & head the ball'.  I prefer to operate dribbling, tricks, turns, juggling the ball & the Ronaldo 7.  The advantage is that, through using the 'Ronaldo 7' in a warm up, it increases the body's temperature & allows maximum touches of the ball.  In fact, the players could touch the ball several hundred times, much more beneficial than jogging around the side of a pitch!  It is simply improving the player's touch & co-ordination.  I feature this all in my new book.

Ronaldo 7

Ronaldo 7


The 'Ronaldo 7' originated from the great Manchester United Coach, Rene Meulensteen, & of course Ronaldo.

The Dutch coach was brought to United to operate as the Skills coach.  He used Ronaldo & his squad number to demonstrate 7 different skills.

The idea is that your feet is the furthest thing away from your brain.  So through repetition you will operate things without thinking - instinct or to improvise.

The other bonus is though using the 'Ronaldo 7' in a warm up it increases the bodies temperature along with maximum touches of the ball.  In fact your players could touch the ball several hundred times - much more beneficial than jogging around the side of a pitch!  It is simply improving the players touch & co-ordination.


Easy - give the player a ball!


For the player to carry out 7 different skills at a high tempo.  The player & ball should not move from their starting position.

The Ronaldo 7 is made up of the following moves;

  1. Toe Taps - Place the sole of the foot on top of the ball then look to alternate feet.  Switching from left foot to right foot.  Look to increase speed.
  2. Sides - Play the ball between left & right foot by passing with the inside of each foot.  Look to increase speed but keeping the ball under control at all times.
  3. Sticky Tape - Start with the sole of the right foot on top of the ball.  Look to roll your foot from one side of the ball to the other.  Try to get your foot as close to the ground as possible but don't touch the ground or let go of the ball.  Depending what is most comfortable balance stationary on your left foot or hop.  Change feet after set time.
  4. Laces, front roll, drag back - Start of all right foot.  Use the laces to hit the ball in front of you, then drag back with the sole of your right foot.  Continue at speed.  Switch over to your left foot.  Then after set time look to mix.  Kick the ball with laces of your right foot, drag back with the sole of your left foot.  Kick out with the laces of your left foot, drag back with the sole of your right foot.  Repeat at speed.
  5. Step Over - Ball is stationary.  Right foot should step over the ball from the outside over, adjust footing then repeat with left foot.  Continue at speed.  Insure you don't touch the ball or move from the spot.
  6. Ronaldo Scissors  - The famous Ronaldo skill!  Right foot should come around the inside of the ball then make a complete circle around it.  Repeat with the left foot.  Continue at speed, again don't touch the ball & keep in the same area.
  7. Tap Dance - Fun co-ordination one to finish on.  Front part of each foot touches the ball.  Left foot, right foot, left foot twists around the back of right leg to touch the ball.  Right foot, left foot, right foot twists around the back of left leg to touch the ball.  Repeat at speed.


  1. Time each skill.
  2. Add different skills.


  • Touch.
  • Perfecting skills.
  • Speed.
  • Co-ordination.

So next time your players arrive for a warm up get them with the ball from the start & watch the motivation go into over drive!  If they ask why do they do it every session & why they should practice at home, well tell them to click on this video!

Let me know how you get on if you use with your own team.  Always feel free to re-post & share as long as you link back to my blog.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

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