Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at the European Championship with a chance to prove that he is indeed the best player in the world.
After a sensational season with Manchester United, a good performance at the EURO 2008 in Switzerland and Australia will move Ronaldo even closer to FIFA’s World Player of the Year award.
Ronaldo finished the league with higherst goal scorer, helping United win the Premier League title and UEFA Champions League. If he can also lead Portugal to their first major title, he will all-but-secure the coveted FIFA award.
Ronaldo will be one of the main stars at European Championship 2008, and Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is counting on the winger to help Portugal repeat their successful campaign
of four years ago, when they finished runner-up to Greece on home soil.
The 23-year-old Ronaldo, who also was crucial when Portugal reached the semi-finals in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, was a finalist in last year’s player of the year award, finishing third to AC Milan midfielder Kaka and FC Barcelona playmaker Lionel Messi.
Already chosen English soccer’s player of the year for the second season in a row, Ronaldo is trying to become the first Portuguese to win FIFA’s international award since Luis Figo in 2001.
The winger became only the third Manchester United player to score more than 40 goals in a season, along with all-time greats Denis Law and Ruud van Nistelrooy. He obliterated George Best’s 40-year-old record of 32 goals by a non-striker.
With Portugal, Ronaldo scored eight times in European qualifying, a third of the team’s goals in the tournament. At Euro 2008, Ronaldo and his teammates will go up against co-host Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Turkey in Group A.
And although the expectations are high for Ronaldo, whose full name is Cristiano Ronaldo Santos Aveiro, it’s up to him to show whether he is indeed the best player.