Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Manchester United in August 2003, the ?12million winger has never been far from the headlines.
Making his debut in the first game of the 2003/04 season, in a comfortable 4-0 win over Bolton, Ronaldo came off the bench to replace Nicky Butt to become the first ever Portuguese player to represent the Red Devils.
From the raw talent signed by Sir Alex Ferguson – after being passed over by the then-Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier and almost being bought by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal – Ronaldo has turned into one of the modern day greats who is among the very best in world football. This claim has been verified by the fact that in 2008 Ronaldo received the Ballon d’Or, often called the European Footballer of the Year Award; although, nowadays players from any nationality playing in any country can win the accolade. The previous year Ronaldo had come second to the Brazilian Kaka.
Ronaldo became the third Portuguese international (joining Eusebio and Luis Figo) and the fourth Manchester United player (after Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best) to win the award. Rather than go by a player’s performances over the course of a season, the Ballon D’or is awarded to whoever is deemed to have been best over the course of a calendar year.
Ronaldo started 2008 scoring against Aston Villa in the FA Cup before scoring his first ever hat-trick, in the 6-0 demolition of Newcastle. The winger, or floating second striker as he was often employed, scored 24 goals between New Year and the end of the 2007/08 season. His goal against the Czech Republic helped his national side reach the quarter final of the 2008 European Championships. An ankle injury delayed Ronaldo’s return to club football but he managed another nine goals before the end of the calendar year, including four in four days as he scored match-winning doubles against West Ham United and Hull City.
Thirty players were nominated for the 2008 award, with 96 international journalists voting for their top five choices. Ronaldo came top with 446 points, followed by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi with 281 points and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres with 179 points.
Since then, however,
Regardless, Ronaldo remains very much in focus as being one of the world’s best and every transfer window brings rumours that clubs from across the continent are preparing huge bids to pry him away from Old Trafford.
Victoria Cochrane writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.