Shock! Ronaldo named Ballon d'Or winner
By Bertrand Boucey and Julien Pretot
PARIS, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Manchester United and Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the Ballon d'Or on Tuesday after inspiring the English club to the Champions League and Premier League double this year.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi came second and Liverpool striker Fernando Torres third in a poll of 96 journalists from all over the world organised by France Football, the French magazine said on its website (www.francefootball.fr).
Ronaldo earned 446 points with Messi on 281 points and Torres on 179.
"It's one of the most beautiful days in my life. I've been dreaming of this trophy since I was a child," Ronaldo, who will be officially presented with the award during a French TV show on Sunday, told France Football.
Ronaldo is the third Portuguese player to win the award after Eusebio in 1965 and Luis Figo in 2000.
"I was not scared (of not winning the award) because I was aware of what I had done in the season," Ronaldo added.
"Thank you to my team mates, who helped me to be the best, thank you to those who set me up for these goals.
"I will now work to be good on Saturday. This morning, arriving at the training session, I will be the same lad. What is sure is that I want to win again because it is so good."
The 23-year-old Ronaldo follows former United greats Denis Law (1964), Bobby Charlton (1966) and George Best (1968) as a winner of the prize previously known as the European Footballer of the Year award. He scored 42 goals for the club last season.
"We are very proud. Manchester United had been waiting for this for 40 years. Cristiano is in the tradition of our three other Ballons d'Or. His award is beyond all possible dispute," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson told France Football.
"He is only 23 years old. His best years are ahead of him. In life, you have two categories of people. Those who reach their goal and go to bed saying to themselves 'I made it' and the other ones, who are driven by will, desire.
"These ones, when they win the trophy, they say to themselves 'I go on'... Ronaldo has that sparkle in himself."
Earlier this year, the Portugal winger also became only the second player after Thierry Henry to win England's Footballer of the Year award in successive seasons.
However, he failed to make an impact at this year's European Championship in Austria and Switzerland as Portugal bowed out to eventual runners-up Germany in the quarter-finals.
European champions Spain had four players in the poll's top 10, with Torres, Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.
During a pre-season dominated by speculation Ronaldo would move to Real Madrid, he underwent ankle surgery but has scored eight goals in 11 league games since returning in September.
Ronaldo, who was second to Brazil playmaker Kaka last year, is the first Portuguese to win the award since Figo in 2000 and the first Premier League player since Michael Owen in 2001.
With England having failed to reach Euro 2008, the first Briton in the Ballon d'Or standings is Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who is 10th on 28 points.
(Editing by Ed Osmond, Greg Stutchbury and Ken Ferris)