Champions League – Ronaldo wins FIFA World Player award
Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo has been named FIFA World Player of the Year at a ceremony held by world football’s governing body.
Also on the shortlist for the prestigious award was Milan playmaker Kaka – winner of last year’s award – and Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Xavi, who was voted Euro 2008 Player of the Tournament by a UEFA panel
Portugal winger Ronaldo, 23, won the honour for the first time after helping United win the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup.
The accolade also completed a hat-trick of top individual honours for Ronaldo, who had already won the football journalists’ Ballon d’Or trophy and the FIFPro World Player of the Year title voted for by his fellow professionals.
“It’s an overwhelming moment, very special,” said Ronaldo after receiving the award from Pele.
“I can say to my mother and sister, ‘let the fireworks off now’. It’s one of the most important moments in my life.”
Ronaldo is the first player based at an English club to win the FIFA award, which had previously gone only to footballers playing for Spanish or Italian sides.
“There may be no English players here but I believe it’s important for England that myself and Fernando Torres are here representing two English clubs,” said Ronaldo before the ceremony.
“It is a victory for the English fans as well because the Premier League is strong, even though we must not forget the leagues in Spain and Italy remain strong as well.”
The FIFA award is voted by the national team coaches and captains of the 208-member associations of world soccer’s governing body.
Ronaldo was voted in first place by 136 of the coaches and captains while 76 put Messi top.
The United player picked up 935 total points, ahead of 678 for Messi and 203 for Torres.
Brazilian striker Marta won the Women’s award for the third consecutive year, equaling the record of Germany’s Birgit Prinz, who finished second this time round with less than a third of the points (328) that Marta accrued (1,002). England’s Kelly Smith was fifth behind Cristiane and Nadine Angerer of Brazil and Germany respectively.
Cristiano Ronaldo factfile
* Born on February 5 1985 in Funchal, Madeira Ronaldo’s late father Jose Dinis Aveiro gave him the second given name Ronaldo in honour of former US president Ronald Reagan.
* He began attracting attention at the age of 10 and both Madeira’s top teams Maritimo and Nacional scouted him. He played his youth football at Nacional before joining Sporting Lisbon, arch-rivals to his boyhood favourites Benfica.
* The turning point in his career came in July 2003 when he impressed Manchester United’s players and manager Alex Ferguson with an outstanding performance against them when United came to play in the Jose Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon. He joined Manchester United shortly afterwards aged just 18 for £12.5 million.
* Since then Ronaldo has scored 102 goals for Manchester United in 264 matches for the club.
* The winger enjoyed a highly successful 2007-08 season, scoring 42 goals in all competitions as United won a Premier League and Champions League double.
* His exploits led to him becoming only the second player to win England’s Footballer of the Year in successive seasons and just the third Portuguese player to win the Ballon d’Or award after Eusebio in 1965 and Luis Figo in 2000.