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Oct 27, 2008

Ronaldo lifts FifPro award

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named FifPro World Footballer of the Year. It is the first in what is expected to be a host of individual honours for the 23-year-old, who scored 42 goals for Manchester United on their way to Champions League and Premier League title glory last term.

Ronaldo had suggested last week he could do no more than he did to be crowned the best player on the planet and peers from over 40 countries are in agreement.

"To be recognised by my fellow professional players worldwide coming from over 50,000 players is amazing," the Portugal winger said.

"I would like to thank my teammates and coaches and everyone involved at Man United and the national team, as well as my family and friends for their support," Ronaldo said. "Thank you also to FIFPro for this award and for your work in protecting the interests and welfare of players around the world."

It is anticipated Ronaldo will also scoop the Ballon D'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, with the Portugal international - who has also been named in FifPro's world team of the year - keen to remain at Old Trafford for another couple of seasons at least.

''I insist that I am a Manchester United player and now I think that next year I will continue here,'' Ronaldo told Marca.

The player also claims to have learned from his selfish ways and no longer tries to beat opponents just for the sake of it.

''I have always played the way I do. It is natural,'' he said. ''If you want to be good, you have to practice, not just in training but games as well. That is my style of football.

''But I am different now compared to five years ago. Then I was dribbling but not doing anything for the team.

''Now I have more experience and I feel more mature. I do things for the team. So, sometimes I dribble, sometimes I don't.''

It seems every move Ronaldo makes is analysed and dissected to establish whether the 23-year-old is still hankering after a move to Real Madrid, but Ronaldo now feels the Real Madrid saga is not worth discussing. However, he is happy to confirm Sir Alex Ferguson as the major factor behind his decision to stay and a continuing influence on his career.

''Sir Alex has been a big inspiration to me,'' he said. ''He believed in me enough to buy me. I have learned so many things from him and I am continuing to learn because he is a great manager.

''Of course, he was the main factor in keeping me here.

''But what happened in the summer is finished. Now my head is on the club. My focus is solely on playing well for Manchester United and winning the Premier League and Champions League again.''

Ronaldo accepts emulating last term's incredible achievements will be tough, both for him individually but for United collectively.

Even halfway through the campaign, he was not thinking about the possibility he could win the Golden Boot. It was only when he continued to hear his name linked with the famous trophy that the Madeira-born star truly began to recognise what he was on the brink of.

''I only started to believe it when I scored 22 or 23,'' he said. ''Before that it didn't even cross my mind because I am not a forward. My job is not to score, so to end up at 42 was incredible.

''It is important I recognise my team-mates because without them, it would not have been possible for me to get so many.

''But I have always been an ambitious player. I try to improve every season, not because I have to prove myself to anyone, just because I want to be the best I can be.

''I am still young and if I am being honest, I did not think I would reach this level so quickly.

''But I always believed in my talent and I have learned a lot, so it made me think that maybe I would become the best player in the world.''

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