A fourth golden moment for Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo last night received his fourth Ballon d'Or but this one is very different from his first three.
Those times - 2008, 2013 and 2014 - Ronaldo won the award for its official reason, being the best footballer in the world. Those were the years he pushed ahead of Lionel Messi and, even given the electioneering of the Ronaldo camp, no-one could dispute his claim.
But not this year. Ronaldo has not been the best footballer in the world in 2016, not even close. Messi has been better. Gareth Bale has been better. Antoine Griezmann has been better. Kevin de Bruyne has done more on the field for his teams. Riyad Mahrez has made more moments of individual brilliance.
But that Champions League final and the even less likely events in France over the following six weeks were why Ronaldo won it. There has always been a suspicion that he is not a team player but all this changed this summer.
The third Champions League brings him level with Messi but after that he did something Messi has yet to do, dragging his team to victory at a major international tournament.
Ronaldo was not the best player at the Euros, but he was the most important one, acting as the father figure for his young side, giving them the inspiration that transformed them.
The sight of Ronaldo going off in tears with a knee injury in the final, before returning to coach the team from the touchline, could yet be the definitive image of his career. (© Independent News Service)
Independent News Service