Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after launching what appeared to be a a thinly-veiled attack on Brazilian striker Ronaldo.

Speaking at a book launch, Del Bosque remarked: “All the players at Real Madrid, with one exception are completely involved in working for the team.’

“The only player who is different is Ronaldo. Zidane, Figo and Raul, to name the most famous players, all work hard for the team. They know that they shine when the team is playing well and winning titles.”

However, aware of the potentially explosive nature of his remarks, the Real Madrid coach denied that he had been criticising Ronaldo.

“I wasn’t criticising or censuring Ronaldo – absolutely not,” Del Bosque told Spanish radio station Honda Cero.

“I’m sure I expressed myself badly. I speak in a lot of places and talking so much is dangerous. When I spoke yesterday I wasn’t being accurate.

“I wasn’t criticising Ronaldo when I said he didn’t get involved in defensive work for the team, I was just stating a fact. He gives us great attacking qualities and to give him defensive duties wouldn’t suit his characteristics.”