Manchester United Star Cristiano Ronaldo Wins Ballon d'Or

The result everyone was expecting has come to pass as the Red Devils' superstar winger has been named European Footballer of the Year...

France Football has handed its prestigious Ballon d'Or award to Cristiano Ronaldo, a decision that will surprise no-one given his outstanding performances over the past 12 months.

The 23-year-old led Manchester United to the Premier League and Champions League titles last term, netting some 42 goals along the way - an incredible feat for a player who predominately plays on the right flank.

Ronaldo was a clear winner, collecting 77 votes from the 96 journalists who judge the award, while Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Liverpool's Fernando Torres filled out the placings.

It is just the latest of many individual triumphs for the former Sporting Lisbon sensation, who was dubbed player of the year by the Football Writers' Association and the Professional Footballers' Association in 2006-07. He was recently named the 2008 FIFPro World Player of the Year.

Ronaldo becomes the fourth Man United star to claim the Ballon d'Or, following in the footsteps of Denis Law (1964), Sir Bobby Charlton (1966) and George Best (1968). It is perhaps fitting that the Real Madrid target's win marks the 40th anniversary of Best's triumph, as he has often been compared to the late, great Ulsterman.

Next up for Ronaldo is the FIFA World Player of the Year gong, which has never been won by an English-based player.

2008 Ballon d'Or Top Ten Classification

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Manchester United) - 446 points

2. Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona) - 281 pts

3. Fernando Torres (Spain/Liverpool) - 179 pts

4. Iker Casillas (Spain/Real Madrid) - 133 pts

5. Xavi Hernandez (Spain/Barcelona) - 97 pts

6. Andrei Arshavin (Russia/Zenit St. Petersburg) - 64 pts

7. David Villa (Spain/Valencia) - 55 pts

8. Kaka (Brazil/AC Milan) - 31 pts

9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Inter) - 30 pts

10. Steven Gerrard (England/Liverpool) - 28 pts

Mike Maguire,

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