Manchester, Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is “unbeatable” in the race to win the 2016 Ballon d’Or, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said.
Ronaldo was firm favourite for a fourth career Ballon d’Or award after 51 goals in 2015-16 as his club won last season’s Champions League, and the Portugal captain then lifted the Euro 2016 trophy in June after scoring three times in the competition.
While other candidates including Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi are thought to still be in the running, Ferguson told Spanish publication Marca: “I cannot think of anyone better to take the Ballon d’Or trophy. One of my proudest moments are those when I recall the part Manchester United played in his career. We wish him the best.”
A below-par start to the new season in which the 31-year-old scored just four times in his first nine games led to concerns, but a treble in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Alaves has gone some way towards resting the doubts.
“His achievements are unbeatable, he has had a marvellous year, winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and captaining Portugal to Euro 2016,” Ferguson said.
“Even though he missed the final with injury, he was on the sideline supporting his teammates because he had such desire to lift the trophy. It was marvellous.”
Ronaldo played for United between 2003 and 2009, winning three Premier League titles and one Champions League working under Ferguson at Old Trafford, while also receiving the first of three Ballon d’Or trophies to date.
“(Ronaldo) emerging as one of the best players in the world was not a surprise for me. Having him since he was 17 years old allowed me to follow his progress, and to understand what made him into such a star,” Ferguson said.
“There are players born to be greats with their natural talent, and another essential factor — the work ethic necessary to make yourself into a complete player. Cristiano had this determination, this desire to be the best to the level of obsession, along with an amazing discipline at training. This constant desire drove him along in his day-to-day work. Even as a young player at United he was an example for everyone.”