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Ronaldo year’s best

Madrid: Ronaldo claimed another first in his remarkable career Tuesday when he was named World Player of the Year for the third time, just 24 hours after claiming the European player’s award.

The 26-year-old striker, who also won the Fifa award in 1996 and 1997, was top-scorer at the 2002 World Cup, hitting eight goals including two in the final as Brazil beat Germany 2-0.

Ronaldo finished ahead of Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and France midfielder Zinedine Zidane in the voting by national team coaches. Zidane had also been hoping to become the first player to win the award three times after his 1998 and 2000 successes.

Tuesday’s announcement crowns a year of personal and national team success for Ronaldo after a triumphant comeback from four seasons blighted by injury.

The gap-toothed “Phenomenon” re-established himself as one of the most effective strikers in the world by leading Brazil to their fifth World Cup triumph in South Korea and Japan.

His eight goals were the highest total since West Germany’s Gerd Mueller scored ten in 1970. That triumph was followed by a controversial $48.50 million transfer to Real Madrid from Inter Milan, the club that had given him so much support and uncomplainingly paid his wages throughout his injury problems.

After a few weeks spent losing weight and regaining fitness, Ronaldo proved his World Cup exploits had been no fluke.with a spectacular Real Madrid debut. (Reuters)

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