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On this day: Ronaldo wins his first Player of the Year Award

FIFA World Player of the Year Gala
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Cristiano Ronaldo won his very first FIFA World Player of the Year Award exactly 12 years ago.

The year is 2008 and a young, irreverent Cristiano Ronaldo has taken Manchester by storm. With the help of a 24-year-old Ronaldo, the Red Devils won two of the toughest competitions in the world: the Premier League and the Champions League.

Moreover, the Portuguese forward won the FIFA Club World Cup and took home the Golden Shoe. Ronaldo had scored 31 goals in the Premier League that season, bagging an award first won by his countryman Eusebio. The former United star became the third Portuguese player to receive the award, after Eusebio and Luis Figo.

Cristiano was facing some heavy competition that year, beating Lionel Messi and Fernando Torres for the prize. He received 935 points from FIFA, while Messi had 678 and Torres had 203. It was a clear win for Portugal’s captain that night in Zurich. As Pele handed him the award, a shy Ronaldo gave a very emotional speech.

“For me, it’s a special moment in my life. I have to leave a message to my mother and my sisters: you can release the fireworks. In the first place, I want to thank my mother, my father, my sisters, and my whole family. If it wasn’t for my teammates, I wouldn’t have won this little thing. I really am very happy, it’s one of the best moments of my life. I hope to return [to the FIFA awards]. Thank you so much.”

Cristiano Ronaldo went on to win the award two additional times in 2016 and 2017, as well as the merged FIFA Ballon D’Or in 2013 and 2014.