He is flamboyant, stylish and one of the best icons of Association Football on the planet to currently play the sport. And he just won the prestigious Ballon d’Or for the fourth time.
The beauty of ‘Jogo Bonito’, as the ‘beautiful game’ is called in his native tongue, is enhanced because of people like Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. Born in 1985 and named after Ronald Reagan, he does share the flamboyance of the Hollywood actor turned US President, every bit of which he brings to display on the green turf, and never more so than when scoring a spectacular goal.
Although FIFA ended their association with the prestigious award in September this year, the sheen of the Ballon d’Or has not faded a bit. It can be said that Ronaldo deserved this year’s award. He simply had an amazing season. From helping his club Real Madrid win the Champion’s League to taking his country Portugal to the victory podium in Euro 2016, a tournament where he scored thrice, there was little more he could have achieved as a player. In all, he found the back of the net 38 times in 42 games, playing for Portugal and the Madrid giants. Football remains a team game, and after the awards were announced the lethal striker did not forget to thank his teammates from his club and members of the national side.
It is undeniable that Lionel Messi too had a great year. So to be fair, he might have pulled it off as well, taking his tally to an incredible six. Scoring 50 times in 50 games, apart from innumerable assists, the Argentine legend had taken Barcelona to the Spanish La Liga title as well as his country to the Copa America final, scoring 5 times in the course of the continental tournament. But for that heartbreak of a missed penalty in the tiebreaker against Chile in the final — a tragedy that initially made him announce his international retirement before reversing the decision later — he could have perhaps finally achieved that elusive tournament victory with the national side. The 173 journalists from all over the world were, therefore, faced with a choice. Only one winner could be selected and, as it turned out, 2016 belonged to Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s career is now studded with awards and achievements. Elected the best Portuguese player of all time in 2015 by the Portuguese Football Federation, he is Portugal’s all-time top goal scorers and also holds the record for most goals in a single season of UEFA Champion’s League. The leading goal scorer of all time for Real Madrid, he is also the second highest scorer in La Liga, behind Lionel Messi. Apart from winning 2 Champions League titles, 2 Copas del Rey and 1 La Liga with his current club Real Madrid, he had also won an FA Cup and 3 Premier League titles with Manchester United during his time in England.
Currently listed as the world’s highest paid athlete by Forbes, ahead of the likes of Messi, LeBron James and Roger Federer, Ronaldo continues to hold football lovers across the world enraptured through his on-field brilliance, even as his off-field escapades keep feeding the gossip columns and consistently raise a storm in the teacup of his admirers and critics alike.