Portugal delights in Ronaldo World Footballer honour

Crustiano RonaldoLisbon/Zurich - Even the Prime Minster was moved as Portugal on Tuesday celebrated Cristiano Ronaldo's 2008 World Footballer honour.

Monday's announcement by the ruling body FIFA at a gala in Zurich delighted his home nation and England as well as the Manchester United winger Ronaldo is the first Premier League-based player to win the prestigious award.

Portuguese broadcasters devoted hours of live-coverage to the 23-year-old Ronaldo who is the nation's second World Footballer, following Luis Figo in 2001.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates said he was "moved" and the authorities in his home island of Madeira said he could pursue a political career there after hanging up his boots.

National team coach Carlos Queiroz, meanwhile, simply hopes for a boost to get a stuttering 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with the help of Ronaldo.

"He is much too young to rest on the trophies," said Queiroz, who was also named European Footballer of the Year after winning the Premier League and Champions League in 2008. He also added a winners' medal from the World Club Cup last month.

Ronaldo paid tribute to his family in Zurich and his mother Maria Dolores was still overwhelmed on Tuesday.

"I am so proud, I am so proud," she told the SIC network.

The world media also hailed Ronaldo with Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport saying that "he has the whole world at his feet."

England's Daily Mirror spoke of "Ronaldo the Great" while The Sun, in its usual headline style said "he's best Ron the planet."

But there was some light criticism in Spain after Ronaldo had beaten Barcelona's Lionel Messi - and Spain's Euro 2008 heroes Xavi and Fernando Torres - for the honour.

"The most handsome, not the best player won. Marketing and money count more at FIFA than the football class of Lionel Messi," said the Sport daily.

However, things may look different in 12 months time amid new media speculation from Spain on Tuesday that Ronaldo has a secret deal with Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon. (dpa)