Cristiano Ronaldo, Ballon d’Or award & an inspiring career
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo at the award ceremony. (Image Credit: Sky Sports)
The Portuguese football icon Ronaldo beat Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Altetico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann to claim the prize. Ronaldo won the Best FIFA men’s player 2016 award at the inaugural Best FIFA Football Awards in Zurich, Switzerland on Jan 9, 2017. The career of Ronaldo has been a roller coaster ride. Take a look at some key moments of his career:
At the age of 17-years, in 2002, Cristiano Ronaldo Dos Santos Averio joined Primeira Liga team, scoring on his debut in a 3-0 victory over Moreirense FC. Continued to impress many on field, Ronaldo caught eyes of top European clubs but it was Manchester United who got him as their first-ever Portuguese player with at $20.5 million and gave Ronaldo United’s famous number 7 shirt. Ronaldo made his debut against Bolton Wanderers on August 17, 2003 and registered his first goal in English football on November 1, 2003- a free-kick in a 3-0 defeat of Portsmouth.
At the debut season of his career, Ronaldo concluded 28 Premier League appearance as United finished disappointed at third place. The table turned in 2004 when United did claim the FA Cup with the Portuguese player heading the first goal in a 3-0 victory over Millwall on May 22, 2004. Within one year Ronaldo got his fame as Portugal was about to host the 2004 European Championship. The winger made his presence in every game of the host’s run to the final, ultimately losing in a shocking defeat by Greece in the final 1-0.
Ronaldo’s first World Cup appearance prompted the star to move away from England after a tiff with his United teammate Wayne Rooney in the tense quarter-final between Portugal and England. Later Ronaldo quickly reconciled to prepare for a new season, re-discovering the form with win of the Premier League by six points from rivals Chelsea. The 2006-07 season recorded personal milestone for Ronaldo as he scored 23 times as well making 17 assists- equalling with Arsenal’s Cesc Fàbregas.
It was the season 2006-07 when Ronaldo’s campaign with United was best when the club took the crown of Premier League and Ronaldo scored incredible 31 Premier League goals (42 overall) to earn him European Golden Shoe for top scorer. He remained with United for one more year ruling over speculation of his movement to Real Madrid. Ronaldo won the first Ballon d’Or in 2008 leaving Messi and Fernando Torres behind at the age of 23.
In the wake of defeat on June 11, 2009 in Champions League final United accepted a then-world record $125 million bid from Real Madrid with Ronaldo being handed over to the club with no. 9 shirt. Real Madrid began their wonderful career with Ronald when they won their first Copa cup in 18-years with Ronaldo’s first silverware in Spain. Ronaldo became the first player to win two different leagues and his second European Golden Shoe award.
In May 2012 Madrid topped the La Liga table and earned the crown with a record breaking 100 points. Also, Ronaldo broke the league-scoring record with his return of 46 goals and named winner of the Trofeo Alfredo Di Stefano for the La Liga player of the season. In 2012 European Championship the winger lead the Portuguese team to the semi-finals however a loss of 4-2 on penalties against Iberian rival Spain broke the dream.
The following season was roller-coaster ride for Ronaldo as despite his impressive return of 34 goals in 34 league games Real Madrid lost the La Liga championship to rivals Barcelona. The following month, Ronaldo was sent off in extra-time as Madrid was defeated by Atletico Madrid to complete a disappointing season for the club. Following year in 2013 Ronaldo won his second Ballon d’Or title where he scored 66 goals in 56 games for the club and country.
On May 24, 2014 the trophy drought of Madrid ended with Ronaldo scoring 4-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in the final of the Champions League. Ronaldo became the highest paid player in the world after signing a contract of $20 million in 2013 and also shared the European Golden Shoe with Luis Suarez. In 2014, Portugal was defeated by Brazil at the World Cup during group stage and Ronaldo couldn’t end the 2013-14 season with international success.
Ronaldo won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award in August 2014 as he scored record breaking 23rd La Liga hat-trick and lifted the Club World Cup with Madrid- the second of his career. Ronaldo became the first Portuguese player to win the Ballon d’Or three times beating Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer. The same season 2014-15 saw him scoring 21 goals in 30 matches in La Liga and a record 17 goals in the UEFA Champions League. More to cheer as Ronaldo with Real Madrid won the Champions League. Also, Ronaldo scored three goals at the Euro 2016 as Portugal bagged the title.