Our Man Of The Year Will See You Now
FourFourTwo UK|January 2017

Champions League and European Championship medals in the bag make 2016 Cristiano Ronaldo’s most fruitful year to date. Next up, he says, is a plan to conquer Hollywood...

Ben Welch

Crammed inside an auditorium at the Portuguese Football Federation’s headquarters, a throng of journalists hold up their phones as if they’re hysterical teenyboppers at a Justin Bieber concert. The lights dim and a blanket of silence engulfs the room. Rio Ferdinand and Ricardo Quaresma – two familiar faces among the panel of luminaries sitting up on the stage – look over their shoulders at a giant TV screen.

Inspiring music plays in surround sound as the screen flickers with a montage of Portugal’s talisman. Having left his seat for a prime view from the floor, Cristiano Ronaldo is fixated on the monitor, eyes wide, grinning ear-to-ear like a child mesmerised by their favourite cartoon.

The film stops, the lights come on and applause rings around the room. Ronaldo resumes his position on stage next to former Manchester United team-mate Ferdinand, who asks him to sum up a stellar 2016 at the launch of his latest signature football boot.

“Unbelievable,” says the Portugal captain, still wearing the same uncontrollable grin. “It’s difficult to put it all into words. It has been the most important year of my career so far.”

There’s no arguing with that. Dragging his club and country to glory last season with match-winning displays in the Champions League and European Championship surpassed all of Cristiano Ronaldo’s previous triumphs, and there have been many.

This year’s accomplishments weren’t all achieved with trademark Roy of the Rovers moments. Yet, through bad performances, injuries, tantrums, tears and reinvention as a touchline manager, Ronaldo has emerged triumphant, and is FFT’s Man of the Year.

Like him or loathe him, the more you learn about the Portuguese forward’s relentless pursuit of perfection, the more you realise his unparalleled success has been well and truly earned.

When you tally up Ronaldo’s achievements in 2016, you could be forgiven for thinking he had it all his own way. In fact, it started with disappointment. His eternal nemesis, Barcelona’s diminutive genius Lionel Messi, reclaimed the Ballon d’Or on January 12, 2015 to win an unprecedented fifth award and deny the Real Madrid superstar a third successive trophy. If you’ve seen Ronaldo’s documentary, you’ll know this loss would have stirred the beast within him. The Ballon d’Or, football’s most prestigious individual prize, marks the universal recognition he craves to the point of obsession.

Spurred on, he plundered goal after goal as Real Madrid tried to claw back a poor start to the La Liga season under Rafa Benitez. The Spanish manager lost his job at the start of January following a 2-2 draw in Valencia. In came Zinedine Zidane, but despite nine wins in 12 games, they remained 10 points off Barça.

On April 2, Ronaldo and Messi met for a Camp Nou Clasico with the Catalans unbeaten in 39 games. The 10 men of Madrid came from behind to win 2-1, a first defeat in six months for Barcelona, with Ronaldo scoring the late winner. It was his 42nd goal of the season on a night when both he and Real were far from impressive, but he still had the courage and the quality to deliver at the decisive moment. This was to become a theme of his career-defining season.

Real Madrid’s recovery took the La Liga title race right to the final day, but the Champions League still represented their best chance of winning a trophy. Then they were left stunned by Wolfsburg, who took control of their quarter-final with a 2-0 win in the first leg. In a side full of superstars, up stepped Ronaldo – again. His hat-trick in the second leg sent his team into the semi-finals.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FOURFOURTWO UKView All

Woof!

Second season syndrome? Forget it. In the 12 months since we last spoke, Dele Alli has gone from England’s hottest prospect to the most talked about young player in the world. The only thing that can stop him now – someone chewing up all his football boots

10+ mins read
FourFourTwo UK
April 2017

They Used To Call Me The Kicking Machine Yes , Really!

Argentina vs England at France 98, Di Canio’s infamous shove, Wenger’s revolution, the rise of Simeone... like a fighty, footballing Forrest Gump, Nelson Vivas has been history’s witness

10+ mins read
FourFourTwo UK
March 2017

Sun Shiiiiiiiiiiiine !

He’s a big fan of Oasis, learnt English watching Corrie and even enjoys the rain. It’s clear Pablo Zabaleta loves life in his adopted city – Blackpool Illuminations on the other hand...

10+ mins read
FourFourTwo UK
March 2017

How Is This Club Able To Compete With Real Madrid , Juventus And PSG?

Uruguayan second-tier side Deportivo Maldonado average crowds of less than 350 but are vying for the hottest South American starlets with the world’s richest football clubs. How? FFT investigates…

10+ mins read
FourFourTwo UK
March 2017

Hal Robson-kanu Sends Belgium For A Hot Dog

The highlight of Wales’ wondrous Euro 2016 was their cult hero flummoxing three Belgians to secure a semi-final spot. FFT meets up with our Goal of the Year winner.

9 mins read
FourFourTwo UK
January 2017

So You Want Some Bubbles,eh…?

Refusing to let his dreams fade and die, Michail Antonio has seldom had more to smile about. The West Ham hero and FFT’s Breakthrough Man of the Year reveals his route to the top.

10 mins read
FourFourTwo UK
January 2017

Idealist Pioneer Rebel

Few people knew the great Johan Cruyff as well as Jaap de Groot, the man who not only ghostwrote the Dutch legend’s weekly column for newspaper De Telegraaf and his 2016 autobiography, My Turn, but was his close friend for 30 years. He reveals Cruyff’s final months to FFT.

6 mins read
FourFourTwo UK
January 2017

Our Man Of The Year Will See You Now

Champions League and European Championship medals in the bag make 2016 Cristiano Ronaldo’s most fruitful year to date. Next up, he says, is a plan to conquer Hollywood...

10 mins read
FourFourTwo UK
January 2017

They're All Just Headphones!

Chris Waddle's rant was not a lonely one. Today's footballers are aided by an army of player liaison officers, sports scientists and psychologists, with tech on top. Do they have the stomach for a scrap?

9 mins read
FourFourTwo UK
February 2017

And You Thought MLS Fans Didn't Care

Eurosnobs give MLS a bad rap, but keep your opinions to yourself when Seattle and Toronto fans are about.

10+ mins read
FourFourTwo UK
February 2017
RELATED STORIES

Young Boys stun Ronaldo's United in Champions League

Ronaldo’s early goal could not save Manchester United from another Champions League loss in Switzerland, 2-1 on Tuesday against a sharp and robust Young Boys team

3 mins read
Gulf Today
September 15, 2021

Ron in a million..

CRISTIANO Ronaldo is a great, great footballer – he can also claim to be the sport’s Greatest Showman.

1 min read
Irish Daily Mirror
September 13, 2021

Ronaldo steals show with double on United return, Man.City win

After all the hype, the build-up and expectation, Ronaldo delivered in almost inevitable fashion on his return to United, scoring twice to send his side top of the table with a 4-1 win over Newcastle

4 mins read
Gulf Today
September 12, 2021

Ronaldo likely to make much awaited mark vs Newcastle in 2nd United spell

One of the best players in the history of soccer is making an emotional return for a second spell at one of the world’s biggest teams, so it’s understandable that Ronaldo has been the talk of the town since his stunning transfer from Juve

2 mins read
Gulf Today
September 10, 2021

Ronaldo opens up to his girlfriend in Netflix show

COMEBACK kid Cristiano Ronaldo is set to open up about his relationship on a new TV show.

1 min read
Daily Star Sunday
September 05, 2021

Ronaldo's chef: How to get the body of Crist

Food regime keeps fat off

1 min read
The Sunday Mirror
September 05, 2021

PELE'S GOOD LUCK MESSAGE AFTER MAN U RETURN

CRISTIANO RONALDO has received a good luck message from Brazil legend Pele after his sensational return to Manchester United was completed on deadline day.

1 min read
Irish Daily Mirror
September 01, 2021

Ronaldo deal sees Man Utd outflank City

As the transfer talk heated up, the prospect of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo in a Manchester City jersey increasingly dismayed greats from the red half of town particularly Rio Ferdinand.

2 mins read
Millennium Post Delhi
August 29, 2021

Gunslinger can make Ole's men big shots again

ACE CAN RESURRECT UNITED

3 mins read
Daily Star
August 28, 2021

RONALDO BACK AT UNITED CLUB

CONFIRMS RE-SIGNING STAR IN £19.4M DEAL

2 mins read
The Times of India Delhi
August 28, 2021