Manchester United FC winger Cristiano Ronaldo has been voted FIFA World Player of the Year to add to the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and Ballon d'Or titles that already adorn his increasingly impressive trophy cabinet.
In a poll of national team coaches and captains, Ronaldo finished ahead of FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who came second, and Liverpool FC and Spain striker Fernando Torres in third. Brazilian international Marta took the women's award for a record-equalling third successive year and confirmed she had signed a three-season contract to join Los Angeles Sol from Umeå IK.
The accolade completes a hat-trick of titles for Ronaldo, who was honoured as the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in August before collecting the Ballon d'Or last month. It is recognition for the Portuguese international's instrumental contribution to United winning the UEFA Champions League and Premier League titles last season, scoring 42 goals in the process. His 31 Premier League strikes earned him the European Golden Shoe and he also finished top scorer in the UEFA Champions League with eight, including one in the final against Chelsea FC. He contributed a fair number of assists too, like the one he provided Wayne Rooney three weeks ago as the European champions beat Ecuador's Liga de Quito to round off 2008 with the FIFA Club World Cup in Yokohama.
"[It] was a great year, individually and, most importantly, collectively," said Ronaldo, who becomes the first English-based player to take the honour. "We won the Premier League, the Champions League and the Club World Cup. I also scored many beautiful goals." Still only 23, the 61-times capped Ronaldo succeeds Kaká, and suggested it may not be the last time he collects the award in Zurich. "I'm still ambitious.
I want to carry on and get better and better, even though it's hard to achieve that. My ambition is huge."
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