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Cristiano Ronaldo wins 2008 Golden Ball
by Paul Kennedy, December 2nd, 2008 7AM
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[AWARDS] Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d'or ("the Golden Ball") as the 2008 Player of the Year.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who led United to the Premier League and Champions League double, outdistanced Argentine Lionel Messi and Spaniard Fernando Torres as the 53rd recipient of the award, formerly known as the European Player of the Year. Since 2007, it is open to players playing in any country in the world and is voted upon by 96 journalists representing each member of UEFA and all the non-European countries that have participated in the World Cup.

Paul Kennedy's Vote
(USA, Soccer America)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
2. Lionel Messi
3. Fernando Torres
4. Xavi
5. Andrei Arshavin

Cristiano Ronaldo is the third Portuguese to win the award after Eusebio in 1965 and Luis Figo in 2000 and the fourth Manchester United player to be selected after Denis Law in 1964, Bobby Charlton in 1966 and George Best in 1968. His vote total of of 446 (out of a possible 480 points) is two more than 2007 winner Kaka received. Kaka, the only previous winner on the 2008 ballot, finished eighth in 2008 voting.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored 46 goals in the 2007-08 season, leading the Premier League with 31 goals and Champions League with eight. He is only the second England-based player to win the award since Best was crowned 40 years ago. Liverpool's Michael Owen won the award in 2001.

At 23, Cristiano Ronaldo is the second youngest winner of the Golden Ball after the Brazilian Ronaldo, who won the first of his two awards in 1997 at the age of 21.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Manchester Utd), 446 points
2. Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), 281 pts
3. Fernando Torres (Spain, Liverpool), 179 pts
4. Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid), 133 pts
5. Xavi (Spain, Barcelona), 97 pts
6. Andrei Arshavin (Russia, Zenith St. Petersburg), 64 pts
7. David Villa (Spain, Valencia), 55 pts
8. Kaka (Brazil, AC Milan), 31 pts
9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Inter Milan), 30 pts
10 Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool), 28 pts
11. Marcos Senna (Spain, Villarreal),16 pts.
12. Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo, Arsenal), 12 pts.
13. Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United), 11 pts.
14. Sergio Aguero (Argentina, Atletico Madrid), 10 pts.
15. Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea), 8 pts.
16. Franck Ribery (France, Bayern Munich), 7 pts.
17. Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, Barcelona), 6 pts.
18. Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus), 5 pts.
19. Michael Ballack (Germany, Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Arsenal), 4 pts.
21. Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United), 3 pts.
24. Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands, Manchester United), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands, Real Madrid), 2 pts.
No votes: Karim Benzema (Lyon), Pepe (Real Madrid), Luca Toni (Bayern Munich), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow).


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