Gary Neville makes the list as a key player, respected coach and pundit
Cristiano Ronaldo won FIFA World Player of the Year at Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo in Top 50 most influential people in Premier League history
Only one footballer has won FIFA’s World Player of the Year award — or the award that supplanted it from 2010, the FIFA Ballon D’Or — while active in the Premier League, and that was Ronaldo, in 2008, when with Manchester United. The Portuguese forward arrived in England in 2003 as an 18-year-old starlet from Sporting Lisbon costing just over £12m and Sir Alex Ferguson demonstrated his faith in the teenager’s enormous potential by assigning him the No 7 United shirt previously worn by George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and David Beckham.
Ronaldo’s six seasons with United had all the hallmarks associated with that overused term ‘football great’, providing impact, honours and legacy. His 292 appearances and 118 goals helped United to three Premier League titles, three domestic cups, the Champions League in 2008 and assorted personal honours. And, in 2009, a payday of £80m for United as Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for a then world-record transfer fee.
The enduring message of CR7’s Premier League days is twofold. 1) The PL ‘made’ him. 2) His departure to Madrid serves as a constant reminder there are still some clubs, if not leagues, with greater allure. (Well, two).
NB: Liverpool’s Michael Owen won the Ballon d’Or when it was still a European not global gong in 2001.