Monday, April 23, 2007

'Proud' Ronaldo wins double PFA crown

Cristiano Ronaldo tonight became the first man since 1977 to win both the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year Award in the same season when he was honoured at a gala dinner in London.

Not since Andy Gray scooped each of the coveted accolades 30 years ago has one player dominated the voting of his fellow professionals in such fashion.
Ronaldo, 22, has been in awesome form for United, as the Red Devils remain on course for a Barclays Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League treble.

The achievement is all the more remarkable considering the somewhat harsh criticism the Portuguese winger received following England's demise at the World Cup.
Ronaldo beat Chelsea striker Didier Drogba to the award, with United's former England midfielder Paul Scholes third.

Ryan Giggs and last year's winner, Steven Gerrard, also made the shortlist, alongside 19-year-old Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

Ronaldo said it was a 'big honour' to be singled out by his peers.

He said: 'It is a special night. It is amazing and a big honour for me to win trophies like this in the English Premier League. I am very proud.

'My colleagues have voted for me and that is fantastic because the players know the qualities of players.

'I want to keep working hard and getting better because these trophies have now given me more motivation.

'At this moment, I am consistent. I am more mature now and I am playing better.

'This great team has helped me as well, because when the team win it is more easy for us all to play with more confidence.

'Everything is right this season and I am really enjoying it.

'I am still young and I am learning more every day.

'I have much time to learn more and improve myself.

'I try to improve all aspects of my football - not only in training but also in games.'

Fabregas finished runner-up in the young player category as well, with 20-year-old Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon third.

Ronaldo's team-mate Wayne Rooney (21) was also shortlisted, as were Reading striker Kevin Doyle, 23, and 18-year-old defender Micah Richards of Manchester City.

It was Manchester United who took centre stage at the Grosvenor House hotel this evening - with eight of their players making it into the Premier League team of the year and manager Sir Alex Ferguson being honoured with the PFA Special Merit Award.

Ronaldo said: 'This shows what quality we have at Manchester United.

'To have eight players in the team of the year is great.'

Ferguson paid tribute to his multi-talented young winger, who joined United from Sporting Lisbon in a £12.2million deal during August 2003.

The United boss said: 'When we saw him play in a pre-season friendly for Sporting against us, at half-time I knew we had to get him and I said to [then chief executive] Peter Kenyon 'we are not leaving the stadium until we get the boy'.

'At this moment in time, I think he is the best player in the world and his season has been incredible.'

PFA Player and Young Player of the Year 2007 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

PFA Premier League Team of the Year 2007 - Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra (all Man Utd); Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo (all Man Utd) & Steven Gerrard (Liverpool); Didier Drogba (Chelsea) & Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham)

Special Merit Award - Sir Alex Ferguson

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