Manchester United and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo was on Monday named FIFA World Footballer of the Year for 2008.
Ronaldo, who is also holder of the prestigious Ballon d’Or for the European Footballer of the Year, beat off competition from 2007 winner Kaka (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Fernando Torres (Spain) and Xavi (Spain).
“It’s an overwhelming moment in my career and I’d like to dedicate this award to my family, friends and colleagues,” he said.
“Winning the Champions League for me was the most memorable moment of 2008,” added Ronaldo, who scored in the final but missed a penalty in the penalty shootout against Chelsea.
Ronaldo went out of his way to heap praise on United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with whom relations became strained during last summer over whether he was going to leave the club for Real Madrid.
“It’s also true that the manager always has an important role to play,” Ronaldo said. “It was a great season for me and for my club, and the coach was important for me because I learned a lot from him.”
“His experience over so many years is of paramount importance — it’s a privilege to have such a great club manager,” he said.
“This is the climax of a fantastic era for me. I’m happy and proud about what has been done by my team and what we have won,” Ronaldo said. “I am lucky to be part of the history of a club like Manchester United.”
Portugal manager Carlos Queiroz, who was also with Ronaldo at Manchester United when he was assistant coach to Ferguson, said it was a logical decision.
“Quality and justice were behind this decision,” Queiroz said. “This is a great achievement for a player as young  as he is and with his career before him.”
“I congratulate Cristiano Ronaldo and hope that this award both stimulates and inspires his career,” he said.
Ronaldo, scorer of 42 goals in all competitions in the 2007-2008 season, was one of United’s architects behind the club’s English Premiership and Champions League double.
It was not a perfectly scripted year for Ronaldo, however, as Portugal crashed out 3-2 to Germany in the quarter-final of Euro 2008 in June.
Ronaldo becomes the second Portuguese player to win the FIFA accolade after Luis Figo in 2001.
He reaped 935 points in the vote in which the coaches and captains of 155 national teams took part. Messi finished second (678 points) and was trailed by Torres (203), Kaka (183) and Xavi (155).
Brazilian midfielder Marta was unveiled as FIFA World Women’s Footballer of the year for 2008, for the third year running.
Marta delivered an outstanding performance at the women’s Olympic soccer tournament in Beijing last year, and equalled the record set by Birgit Prinz by claiming her third consecutive title.
For the women’s vote, 139 coaches and captains cast their vote and Marta won comfortably (1,002 points) ahead of Germany’s Prinz (328), Brazil’s Cristiane (275), Germany’s Nadine Angerer (198) and England’s Kelly Smith (150).