WORLD EXCLUSIVE: The Real Madrid star is honoured to top Goal's list for the third time, but says team glory is what really motivates him and he wants more silverware in 2014-15By David Atana & Ben Hayward
For the second time in three years and third time overall, Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed the Goal 50 award for the finest footballer over a single season.
The prestigious prize, chosen by Goal's 600 editors, is the final accolade in a crowning campaign that will live long in the memory.
When Ronaldo inaugurated his own personal museum in Madeira last December, some mocked the Portuguese for the scarce amount of silverware he had claimed in his first four seasons at Real Madrid, while others pointed to the long list of titles won by Lionel Messi. As has been the case so often in his career, however, Ronaldo silenced the critics.
Sportmasta was present as he cut the tape to unveil his collection in Funchal, presenting him with an updated version of the 2012 trophy which is currently on display. Now he has another one to sit alongside it.
"It’s a very big honour for me to have been chosen as the best player," Ronaldo told Goal after his latest triumph.
"I’m sincerely grateful for this award. I also want to thank the fans for their support and for their passion for the game, which is what makes this sport so fascinating throughout the world."
"Over and above individual prizes, I have always maintained that it’s the teams, your team-mates and the fans that make each of us better as footballers," Ronaldo added. "Therefore, I’m convinced that I wouldn’t have been able to win this award without the constant support from all the people at Real Madrid."
Without his goals, however, Madrid almost certainly would not have enjoyed such spectacular success in 2013-14. Even though Cristiano missed the final of the Copa del Rey as Real beat Barcelona, he had hit three goals en route to the Mestalla showpiece, while his 17 strikes in the Champions League represents a new record, surpassing the mark of 14 in a single edition of the continental competition set by Jose Altafini in 1962-63 and Messi in 2011-12.
Remarkably, those 17 goals came in just 11 games as Ronaldo became the first player to score in eight consecutive Champions League matches. He also netted in every round of the knockout phase, including two in the 4-0 win at Bayern Munich in the semi-finals and a penalty in the 4-1 extra-time victory against Atletico that sealed the trophy in Lisbon.
"Was there room in his museum for La Decima?" a Spanish journalist had asked Ronaldo in December. "There's always room for La Decima," he replied.
Winner | Ronaldo receives the Goal 50 trophy from Editorial Director Graham Shaw in Los AngelesIn 2013-14, Ronaldo fired Portugal past Sweden in their World Cup play-off with all four of his side's goals in the two-legged tie to seal a place at Brazil 2014. He also became the nation's all-time top goalscorer by surpassing former team-mate Pauleta (47 international goals) and reached 50 strikes for his country at the World Cup, where he was some way short of full fitness and ultimately unable to help his team avoid an early exit from the competition - the only low point in what is his most memorable year to date.
Now, he's back in full training with Madrid and after collecting the Goal 50 trophy from Editorial Director Graham Shaw at the club's summer base in Los Angeles, he's raring to go again. The club will compete for six titles in 2014-15 and Ronaldo wants them all.
"My aims for the coming season are the same as always: to fight from the start of every training session to the last minute of every match," he said.
"My wish is for Real Madrid to lift all of the trophies possible. Our club, our coaching staff, my great team-mates and myself, we will do everything we possibly can - day in, day out and week in, week out - to bring as much joy as possible to our magnificent fans.
"Football and competition are in my blood."