Goal.com is publishing exclusive extracts from Luca Caioli's new book, Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection. This ninth excerpt looks at his Golden Ball success in England
His only major triumph has been with Argentina’s Albiceleste national team, who were crowned world champions at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Fernando Torres is third with 179 points, thanks to a great ﬁrst season with Liverpool, a tally of 24 goals, and his role as the protagonist in Spain’s Euro 2008 victory over Germany in Vienna.
The international press have hailed Cristiano as the best in his class. From Beijing to LA, from Johannesburg to Reykjavik, the journalists called upon to vote by France Football – the French sports magazine which has been awarding the Ballon d’Or since 1956 – are unanimous in their praise of his talents.
Despite not shining in Europe, despite the ongoing soap opera surrounding his possible move to Madrid, rumours about his personal life and his arrogance and provocation on the pitch, he has been crowned the winner. All that matter are his ability to put on a stunning performance, his enormous talent, the goals that earned him the Premier League Golden Boot, and the Premier and Champions League titles he won with Manchester United.
He receives a personal congratulatory message from the Portuguese president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, who emphasises how this honour "has helped promote Portugal’s sporting reputation internationally and contributes to the country’s appreciation of sport, which is signiﬁcant encouragement for many of our nation’s young sportsmen and women."
Ronaldo is the fourth United player to win the Ballon d’Or after Denis Law in 1964, Bobby Charlton in 1966 and the aforementioned Best in 1968. He is also the ﬁrst Premier League player to win since Michael Owen.
|Ronaldo is the fourth United player to win the Ballon d'Or after Denis Law in 1964, Bobby Charlton in 1966 and George Best in 1968. He is the first Premier League player to win since Michael Owen in 2001
On 2 December 2008, France Football announces the winner of the 53rd Ballon d’Or on its website and publishes a special edition dedicated to Cristiano. Everyone has already predicted the win, everyone is betting on the Portuguese, from Zidane ("He’s the favourite, he won the league and the Champions League and he’s the top scorer") to Kaka ("He deserves it, he’s been the crucial element in United’s victories"), from 2006 winner Fabio Cannavaro ("It’s obvious he’ll win it") to Ibrahimovic ("I would give it to him, although he didn’t do so well in Europe"), and ﬁnally Fernando Torres ("He’s a goalscoring machine").
Even Cristiano himself is convinced that 2008 will be his year, admitting that he fancies his chances a few days before the winner is announced. "I think I have done more to deserve it than anyone, I’m feeling conﬁdent," he tells Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport. "If you look at the past season, I think I did better than I have done any other season."
Regarding his competition, he admits that "there are two or three others who deserve to win. But if you evaluate what each of them has achieved over the course of the entire season, I still think I have done more than anyone else. What else should I have to do to get the Ballon d’Or besides winning the Premier and Champions League?"
- Luca Caioli's book, Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection, is published by Corinthian Books and is out now. Order a UK copy here! Order a USA copy here!
With every extract published, Goal.com will be giving away one copy of Luca Caoili's new book. To have a chance of winning an ebook or hard copy of Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection, answer the following question: Who was the last Real Madrid player to win the Ballon d'Or? Send answers to firstname.lastname@example.org - the winner will be announced in next Friday's extract.
Last week's winner: Lanre Bello