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Ronaldo wins Ballon d’Or
London, Dec 2 (Agencies):
Published on 3 Dec. 2008 12:36 AM IST
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Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was named European Footballer of the Year on Tuesday, reward for his brilliant performances for Manchester United as they completed the Premier League and Champions League double. Ronaldo's goalscoring exploits helped United to the Premier League and Champions League. Ronaldo is the fourth Manchester United player to win the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) and the first since fellow winger George Best in 1968. He beat Barcelona forward Lionel Messi into second place, with Liverpool striker Fernando Torres third in the poll, which is organized by France Football magazine. "It's one of the greatest days of my life. Winning this trophy ... I dreamed about it as a kid," France Football quoted Ronaldo as saying. "Those who know me, who live with me, know that this is finally a dream come true for me." Ronaldo comfortably topped the poll of 96 leading sports journalists with 446 points. Messi had 281 points and Torres was on 179. "I'm only 23 and it's magnificent. Unbelievable. It's even better considering all the big names in contention this year," Ronaldo added. Ronaldo heaped praise on the teammates who helped him score 42 goals in all competitions last season, a remarkable total for a wide player. "They are the ones who passed the ball for me to score goals," he said. "What is for sure is that I want to win it again, it feels so good. So, (next morning), at eight O'clock, I will wake up and tell myself I want to be even better." Last year's winner Kaka, Milan's Brazilian playmaker, finished eighth this time around with only 31 points. The 23-year-old Ronaldo adds the Ballon d'Or award to the FIFPro World Player of the Year trophy he won in October, and the Professional Footballers Association and the Football Writers awards. He also becomes the first Premier League player to win since former Liverpool forward Michael Owen in 2001, and the first Portuguese player since winger Luis Figo won it with Real Madrid in 2000, and the third after Eusebio in 1965. The only disappointment for Ronaldo in an outstanding year was Portugal's disappointing showing at the Euro 2008, after which he underwent an operation on a nagging right ankle injury. After a summer of speculation linking him to Real Madrid, Ronaldo returned to United colors in mid-September and is slowly finding his best form with eight goals in 11 Premier League games. Closest rival Messi has scored freely for Barca all year and also helped Argentina defeat Nigeria 1-0 to win the Olympic football gold medal in Beijing. Torres made an immediate impression with Liverpool in the Premier League and scored the only goal as Spain beat Germany to win Euro 2008. Ronaldo joins legendary list Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo has joined a list of greats after being crowned 2008 European Footballer of the Year. The Portuguese international won the prestigious Ballon d'Or after 77 of the 96 journalists voted him as number one. Ronaldo, who scored 42 goals to help United win the Champions League and Premier League titles, polled 446 points from a maximum 480, to beat Barcelona's Lionel Messi (281) and Liverpool's Fernando Torres (179). The 23-year-old becomes the third Portuguese player to lift the trophy - after legendary pair Eusebio and Luis Figo - and joins fellow Red Devils George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton in taking the gong. RECENT WINNERS 2007 Kaka 2006 Fabio Cannavaro 2005 Ronaldinho 2004 Andriy Shevchenko 2003 Pavel Nedved 2002 Ronaldo 2001 Michael Owen 2000 Luis Figo 2008 Ballon d'Or voting 1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester Utd) 446 points 2 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 281 pts 3 Fernando Torres (Liverpool) 179 pts 4 Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) 133 pts 5 Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona) 97 pts 6 Andriy Arshavin (Zenit St-Petersburg) 64 pts 7 David Villa (Valencia) 55 pts 8 Kaka (AC Milan) 31 pts 9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan) 30 pts 10 Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) 28 pts 11 Marcos Senna (Villarreal) 16 pts 12 Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal) 12 pts 13 Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) 11 pts 14 Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid) 10 pts 15 Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 8 pts 16 Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) 7 pts 17 Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona) 6 pts 18 Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) 5 pts 19 Michael Ballack (Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) 4 pts 21 Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) 3 pts 24 Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), 2 pts

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