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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
So that's the World Player of the Year, the Balon D'or, the PFA Player of the Year, the Football Writers Footballer of the Year, the European Golden Shoe and something called the FIFPro Award. It seems that the only thing Cristiano Ronaldo hasn't won in the last twelve months is the US election. The awards are stacking up and it's a good job they pay him so much money at Manchester United, because he'll need to build another mantelpiece to fit them all on.

Who could argue with any of them? Even if, like me, you can't stand the diving and the petulance, it is impossible to deny that the Portuguese frontman was the most successful footballer of 2008. 42 goals in a season, a league title, a Champions League title and the dubious honour of the Big Sepp Blatter World Club Champions Big Cup. Lionel Messi might be the better player, and there's a debate that could go on for a while, but no-one can match Ronaldo where it counts, in the silverware stakes.

This latest bauble comes at a strange time for the ever-tanned winger. He can probably count himself lucky that it wasn't a posthumous award, as the Chelsea fans so charmingly reminded him with their catchy ditty, 'You Should Have Died In The Tunnel' on Sunday. Manchester United lost one young forward in 2003 when Jimmy Davis was killed in a motorway car crash. They were all too close to losing another one last week.

A brush with death can have a profound effect on a sensitive mind, so it will be interesting to see what manner of Ronaldo clambered out of the wreckage. Will he drop the arrogance, the preening and the nastiness? Will he begin take his role seriously? We can but hope. At least he seems to be accepting that Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world, rather than treating them as some kind of unfashionable stepping stone to Madrid.

"This is the climax of a fantastic era for me," he burbled. "I'm happy and proud about what has been done by my team and what we have won. I am lucky to be part of the history of a club like Manchester United."

Yes, Cristiano, you certainly are. Some managers would have bowed to media pressure and booted him out after the 2006 World Cup, or after months of watching his early tricks and flicks come to nothing. Ronaldo owes every trinket in his collection to Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who has moulded him into a world class player. You only have to look at the sad sight of Denilson, the old Denilson, being forced to jump through hoops for Gary Megson at Bolton, to see what happens to footballers with all the skill and none of the application.

"It's a privilege to have such a great club manager," he admitted on receiving the award.

What was that? Humility? In public? Goodness me.

That near-miss in the tunnel could be more valuable to Ronaldo the man than all those awards are to Ronaldo the player. Imagine how good he could be if he grows up.