Another feather in Ronaldo’s cap

The ‘World Player of the Year’ award gives the 23-year-old a clean sweep of all the recognised major individual and club honours available to a footballer, writes Jamie Jackson.

Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned ‘World Player of the Year’ in Zurich, making him the first footballer based on these shores to win the FIFA award since its inception in 1991. It gives the 23-year-old a clean sweep of all the recognised major individual and club honours available to a footballer and ends 18 memorable months for the winger.

Presented with the award by Pele, the Portugal midfielder thanked his “family and all my friends for a very special moment in my life. All I can say to my mother and sister, [is] ‘the fireworks can go off now.’”

By winning the vote cast by international coaches and captains, Ronaldo beat Liverpool’s Fernando Torres, last year’s winner, Kaka, and the Barcelona players Lionel Messi and Xavi. In December 2008, he was voted ‘European Footballer of the Year’ and he is the current Football Writers’ and PFA Player of the Year. He also won the Premier League, Champions League and World Club Championship with Manchester United, and is the holder of the Golden Boot, the award given to Europe’s top-scorer, for his 42 goals last season.

The winger, who nearly moved to Real Madrid in the summer and earlier offered a joke about his recent car crash, paid tribute to United’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, and Luiz Felipe Scolari — the Brazilian gave an 18-year-old Ronaldo his Portugal debut before he became Chelsea head coach last summer.

“It’s true that the manager always has an important role to play. Without Sir Alex and Scolari I wouldn’t be here today. Sir Alex has had an important role to play in my life. Last season was a great one for me, my club, and the boss was important because I learned a lot from him. His immense experience, after so many years, is of paramount importance and for me it’s a privilege to be able to be a part of the history of such a big club as United. The decision on who wins is final and is one taken by specialists, people who know about football. You have people voting for me, people who are voting for Kaka, and so on. It is a matter of respecting the views of other people. The player who wins the award deserves it.”

Ronaldo also suggested United can repeat their triumphant 2008. “We are in a great position to win the Premier League and the Champions League again. We are one of the best clubs in the world and if we play to our very best, like we did against Chelsea, we will have no trouble winning everything again.”

United meet Inter at the end of February in the last 16 of the Champions League. “It is going to be difficult to beat Inter,” Ronaldo added. “We know it is always difficult to win Champions League matches, but we have to try to win the European Cup again this season. There are so many great players in the Inter team, we’ll have to be at our best to progress.”

Asked about the car crash, Ronaldo offered a smile and said: “I feel fantastic, I feel great, better than before the accident,” before again denying his agent has in place an agreement for him to make the move to Madrid in the summer. “It’s not true,” he said.

He also refused to comment How the voting went 1. Cristiano Ronaldo: 935 2. Lionel Messi: 678 3. Fernando Torres: 203 4. Kaka: 183 5. Xavi: 155 © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009