Ronaldo picks up two prestigious footballing awards
I can`t do any better than to reproduce this article from the Manchester Evening News about the double awards that Cristiano Ronaldo picked up last night.
MIKEL Arteta was speaking for footballers all over the world when he declared that Cristiano Ronaldo is so good he scares the life out of his opponents.
"Ronaldo is a total football artist," said the Everton midfielder. "The boy frightens even us as professional footballers."
Arteta was eulogising over a young man who was last night crowned PFA Player of the Year - the sixth United player to lift the prestigious award in its 33 year history - and Young Player of the Year.
Ronaldo, who is United's top scorer with 21 goals and the Premiership's leading provider with 13 assists, follows in the footsteps of Mark Hughes, Gary Pallister, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Teddy Sheringham and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
And for those that have watched the Portuguese winger rise from adversity to become one of the finest players of his generation, the accolade will come as no surprise.
The great Eusébio once descibed Ronaldo as "an icon waiting to happen". Now his time has come.
"Over the season he has stood out and shone like a beacon," said the Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock, whose team succumbed to Ronaldo's magic as United beat the Blades 2-0 at Old Trafford last Tuesday.
After the 22-year-old signed a new five-year £31m contract to keep him at Old Trafford until 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson insisted he is as good as Pele and Diego Maradona were at the same age.
What many may fail to realise is the odds that Ronaldo has had to overcome to get where he is today. The spoilt brat tag he has at times carried could not be further from the truth.
Ronaldo was born in Funchal but grew up in San Antonio, a working-class district on the island of Madeira.
He endured a tough childhood, living with his parents Jose Dinis and Maria Dolores, brother Hugo and sisters Elma and Katia in a bungalow so small that their washing machine was kept on the roof.
Maria dos Santos, a teacher at Ronaldo's primary school Escola Sao Joao, said: "From the day he walked through the door, football was his preferred sport. If there wasn't a real ball around - and often there wasn't - he would make one out of socks."
Ronaldo moved to Lisbon at just 11-years-old without his parents. The boy who was renowned for keeping cans in the air with his feet was to be nurtured at Sporting Lisbon's Alcochete academy but life would not be easy.
"Coming from Madeira he has a unique accent and in Portugal some people make fun of it," explains Sergio Krithinas a Portuguese journalist. "Once his teacher [at Escola Barreiros] was calling everybody's name and when she said `Cristinao Ronaldo' he said `I'm here' with his Madeira accent and everybody started to laugh at him. So he launched a chair at the teacher."
On the pitch, however, Ronaldo's talent was never questioned and in the summer of 2003 United acted.
Inspired by Ronaldo, Sporting beat the Reds 3-1 in a pre-season friendly and in the dressing room afterwards the United players begged Fergie to sign the 18-year-old. Soon United's new No7, David Beckham's replacement, was unveiled.
His debut - a 29-minute cameo against Bolton - was nothing short of sensational and the manager later admitted: "It looks like the fans have a new hero".
The irony is that if Ronaldinho's move from Paris Saint-Germain to United had not fallen through at the 11th hour, it is likely Ronaldo, who was being strongly trailed by Arsenal at the time, would never have signed.
More recently Ronaldo has had to overcome the death of his father, false allegations of rape, the media frenzy around accusations that he encouraged Wayne Rooney's sending off in England's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Portugal and doubts surrounding his on-field integrity - booing and diving slurs follow him still.
Despite all that he has won over many of his fiercest critics and the approval of his peers.
"He is the toughest player I have ever come up against," said Reading's captain Graeme Murty, who has been terrorised by Ronaldo twice this season. "He's well on his way to becoming the best player in the world.
"As an opponent you've seen what he has to offer on the TV and you try to steel yourself for it but nothing can quite prepare you for Ronaldo when he is in full flow."
Manchester Evening News