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FIFA names Cristiano Ronaldo footballer of the year

13 January 2009 One Comment


Zurich: Manchester United’s Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who last month won the European Footballer of the Year, was Monday named FIFA World Footballer of the Year.

Twenty-three-year-old Ronaldo, who made history by becoming the first Premier League-based player to win the award, beat off the other finalists Kaka, Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres and Xavi to win the award.

Here are some details about Ronaldo (courtesy Reuters)

THE BEST IN THE WORLD: With his clever step-overs, fast footwork with both feet and good heading ability, Ronaldo has scored 102 goals for Manchester United in 264 matches for the club.

STAND-OUT SEASON: 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.

TRANSFER TO REAL? His exploits caught the attention of Real Madrid leading to a long summer of transfer speculation with Manchester United reporting the Spanish club to FIFA over their public courting of the player. FIFA took no action and Ronaldo, who was recuperating from ankle surgery, eventually stayed with United.

LIFE DETAILS: Born on Feb. 5 1985 in Funchal, Madeira Ronaldo’s late father Jose Dinis Aveiro gave him the second given name Ronaldo in honour of former U.S. 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.

TURNING POINT: 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 pounds.

WORLD CUP CONTROVERSY: He courted controversy in the 2006 World Cup finals when he became embroiled in an incident involving his United team mate Wayne Rooney during England’s World Cup quarter-final against Portugal. Cameras caught him winking at his bench as Rooney was sent off. There was speculation he might have to leave United, but instead he stayed and helped United win the Premier League the next season.

Although his 2006-07 season started under the shadow of the World Cup controversy, it ended on a high when he was named both Portugal’s Footballer of the Year and England’s Footballer of the Year. He was also Manchester United’s Player of the Year and the fans Player of the Year and was runner-up to Kaka in the Ballon D’Or.

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