On this day in 2009: Cristiano Ronaldo named FIFA World Player of the Year

The Portugal forward scored 42 goals the previous season as Manchester United won the Champions League and Premier League.

By Press Association Published: 12 January 2022 - 6.00am

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first Premier League star to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award on this day in 2009.

The Manchester United forward beat Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, AC Milan playmaker Kaka and Barcelona pair Lionel Messi and Xavi to the prestigious title.

Ronaldo, then 23, had scored 42 goals as United won a Premier League and Champions League double in the 2007-08 season.

Ronaldo File Photo
Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 goals as Manchester United claimed a Premier League and Champions League double in the 2007-08 season (Martin Rickett/PA)

“It’s an overwhelming moment in my career and I’d like to dedicate this award to my family, friends and colleagues,” Ronaldo said at a Zurich ceremony after being presented with the award by Brazil great Pele.

“It was a great season for me and for my club and the coach (Sir Alex Ferguson) was important for me because I learned a lot from him.

“His experience over so many years is of paramount importance – it’s a privilege to have such a great club manager.”

Ronaldo, who had been named European Player of the Year a month earlier, almost joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2008 but was persuaded to stay at United by Ferguson.

The Best FIFA Football Awards 2017 – Palladium Theatre
Cristiano Ronaldo was named the world’s best men’s footballer for the fifth time in 2017 (Adam Davy/PA)

The Portugal star eventually joined Real in July 2009 and would go on to pile up the goals and trophies at the Bernabeu.

The men’s FIFA World Player of the Year award was absorbed into the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010.

Ronaldo won the accolade four more times – in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 – before joining Juventus in July 2018.

He spent three years in Italy before returning to United in August 2021, and the following month became the record goalscorer in the history of international football.

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