Ronaldo joins Messi as five-time winner of FIFA player award

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after winning The Best FIFA Men's Player Award with Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 October 2017
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Ronaldo joins Messi as five-time winner of FIFA player award

LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo has caught up with Lionel Messi to become a five-time winner of FIFA’s best player award.
The Real Madrid forward was crowned player of the year on Monday at the FIFA Best ceremony at the London Palladium theater attended by runner-up Messi and third-placed Neymar.
A second successive honor for Ronaldo was expected after a season in which the Portuguese eclipsed his award counterparts in the trophy stakes.
As well as Spanish league and Spanish Super Cup success, Ronaldo scored twice in the Champions League final against Juventus to win European soccer’s elite competition for the third time in four seasons.
Ronaldo’s coach at Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, was crowned coach of the year.
FIFA has shifted its award ceremony from its usual January slot to October so players are judged across a season — based on the typical European schedule — rather than the calendar year.
The women’s award honored the Netherlands’ success at the European Championship in August. Lieke Martens, who scored in the final win over Denmark, won the player’s award and Sarina Wiegman collected the coaching accolade.
The Puskas Award for best goal went to Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud for a scorpion-style kick. The Puskas Award-winning goal from an overhead back-heeled strike came on New Year’s Day in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the English Premier League.


Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo's toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

Updated 15 min 49 sec ago
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Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo's toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

  • Portuguese superstar has moved to Italian giants in deal worth nearly $120 million
  • Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid

LONDON: Love him or loathe him, you have to admire Cristiano Ronaldo’s character.
At a time of life when lesser mortals are lured by big paychecks to the likes of Qatar or China, the mercurial Madeiran has opted for what will be his biggest challenge yet at Juventus.
His career over the last decade has been played out under the cloud of the never-ending debate — “Ronaldo or Messi; who is better?”
Thankfully, that circus was quietened somewhat at the recent World Cup. Some flashes of pure brilliance aside, neither player made a big enough impact to lead their respective teams to glory and Messi’s wait for an international trophy goes on.
And, while both players are undeniably in a league of their own, the fact Ronaldo does have a European Championship title under his belt will always tip the argument toward the Portuguese — especially for those who measure greatness in statistics and trophies.
In fairness, Ronaldo’s statistics are mind-boggling. His stint at Manchester United, where he cut his teeth and started to show his potential as a great of the game, was instrumental in the club winning three Premier League titles and their third European crown. His staggering 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid saw him become the Spanish giant’s record goalscorer on his way to winning everything under the sun.
But the Premier League and La Liga are leagues in which attacking footballers flourish. With the dawning of wall-to-wall TV coverage, they have both been transformed to entertain the billions of people who tune in every week — and in this day and age, goalscoring superstars win you fans, not defenses.
The art of defending has all-but disappeared and the culture of building a spine through a team has slowly but surely been eroded away. Nobody wants to watch an engrossing, absorbing, end-to-end goalless draw anymore — it is all about 6-5 thrillers.
But, not so in Italy.
Serie A, for all its scandals and fall from grace since its heady days of the 1990s, is still an extremely difficult league to win. It is a league in which fans and managers place great emphasis on defending, on building teams from back-to-front (not the other way around) and on the mentality of “you cannot lose if you don’t concede.”
Granted, Juventus have walked Serie A for the past seven seasons; it is to be expected from one of the richest clubs in the world. But rarely have they won it at a canter. Never once have they scored anywhere near 100 goals in a season to win it — unlike Manchester City in last season’s Premier League, or Barcelona and Real Madrid almost every season in the same period.
And not once has Serie A’s top-goalscorer reached the dizzying heights Ronaldo (and Messi) hit in La Liga season after season, nor has it always been a Juventus player claiming the golden boot.
This all points to a monumental challenge for Ronaldo. On paper, he should not find it as easy to score goals in Serie A and with the marked improvement of Napoli, Roma and Lazio recently, nor will it be an easy ride for Juventus to claim an eighth scudetto in a row this year.
So, while Messi prefers to stay in one country and within his comfort zone of the defense-shy Spanish league, if a 30-something Ronaldo succeeds in Italy — or, better yet, guides Juventus to the European glory the fans crave so much — it would be his most remarkable achievement yet.
And it would put the tiresome debate over who is the greatest ever to bed, once and for all.
No contest.