My Soccer World

Football: Ronaldo Vows To Hit New Heights After Ballon D’Or Triumph

Posted on: December 3, 2008

LONDON: As Cristiano Ronaldo contemplated a year that has brought him enough silverware to last a lifetime, the Manchester United winger could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels.

But the Portuguese playmaker is determined to make his star shine even brighter in 2009 after beating Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Liverpool striker Fernando Torres to the Ballon d’Or this week.

The award is given to Europe’s top footballer and, on the back of a phenomenal 2007-08 season in which he scored 42 goals for his Premier League and Champions League-winning club, there is little doubt that Ronaldo deserved the prize, yet he believes he can get even better.

“I always play with pressure because people always expect a lot from me and I don’t think that will change,” Ronaldo told United’s website, http://www.manutd.com.

“Winning this award makes me feel very happy inside because it’s one of the best days of my life.

“But my responsibilities are still the same; I want to continue to play well for my club and my country and try to do as well as last season.

“Of course I can improve – there are many things I still need to learn.

“You can never let yourself think you know everything. I am still very ambitious and I will continue to work very hard every day. I know it will be very hard to better last season, but I will try – if you don’t try you win nothing. A new season means a new challenge and I want to help the team win more trophies.”

Ronaldo becomes the first United player to win the award since the late George Best in 1968. Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton were also honoured in the 60s and the Portuguese winger was proud to follow in the footsteps of three of Old Trafford’s all-time greats.

“It’s amazing that only four players in the club’s history have won it, I didn’t know that until yesterday,” Ronaldo said.

“So it’s special for the club and obviously for me and I feel very proud to be part of the history of the Ballon D’Or and the history of this club. You work hard to win team awards and personal awards, but to win this one is very special.”

Ronaldo’s success is also a triumph for Ferguson, who gambled 12 million pounds on the Portuguese, then a precocious teenager with Sporting Lisbon, after he ran rings around United in a friendly.

“We are very proud. Manchester United had been waiting for this for 40 years,” Ferguson said.

“His award is beyond all possible dispute. He is only 23 years old. His best years are ahead of him.”

Ferguson’s assistant for much of Ronaldo’s time at Old Trafford was his fellow Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, now manager of the Portugual national team.

“As someone who was responsible for his training and preparation at Manchester United, I am really proud for his achievement, which was his dream and ambition,” Queiroz said.

“This award is also a challenge for him to keeping working as he has been doing so far in order to remain at the top and progress even further.”

AC Milan’s Kaka won the award last year and his coach at the Serie A, Carlo Ancelotti, admitted Ronaldo was a worthy successor.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best and most spectacular players in the world,” Ancelotti said.

The only dissenting voice came from across Milan, where Jose Mourinho, who had several run-ins with Ronaldo during his time at Chelsea, claimed the award should have gone to one of his Inter Milan stars.

“I have no praise for Ronaldo,” Mourinho said: “I would have preferred one of my own foreign players to have won the Ballon d’Or.”

– AFP/yb

Channel News Asia

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