My Best is still to come: Ronaldo
Manchester United hero Cristiano Ronaldo today vowed to become an even better player after following in the footsteps of the great George Best.
In 1968 Northern Ireland icon Best won the coveted Ballon d’Or.
Forty years on Ronaldo has become the European Footballer of the Year.
After claiming the award Ronaldo, who has a signed shirt from Best in his house, described winning the award as “one of the most beautiful days of my life”.
The United winger saw off competition from Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Liverpool striker Fernando Torres to claim the prize.
Of the 96 top journalists polled by France Football magazine, 77 voted the Portugal star as their number one player this year and every one placed him in their top five after he scored 42 goals in United's Barclays Premier League and Champions League winning season.
He polled a massive 446 points from a maximum 480, finishing comfortably ahead of second-placed Messi (281) and third-placed Torres (179).
In so doing the 23-year-old becomes the third Portuguese player to lift the famous trophy - after legendary pair Eusebio and Luis Figo - and joins fellow Red Devils Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton in taking the gong.
Ronaldo is just the second England-based player to win the award since Best. Michael Owen, in 2001, is the other.
Speaking to www.francefootball.fr, Ronaldo said: "This (trophy) is one that I want to win again because it is so good. Therefore, I will wake and I will say to myself 'I want to be even better'.
“It is one of the most beautiful days of my life. To gain this trophy is something I dreamed of as a child.
"Great emotion fills me but I cannot really describe it,” added Ronaldo who thanked his family and team-mates for their support.
Ronaldo, who looked set for a move to Real Madrid in the summer, added: "There were other great names this year. I see that Lionel Messi finished second and Fernando Torres third, but also (fifth-placed) Xavi ... all these people could have taken the trophy and I won it."
2008 Ballon d'Or voting
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester Utd), 446 points
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona), 281 pts
3. Fernando Torres (Liverpool), 179 pts
4. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), 133 pts
5. Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), 97 pts
6. Andriy Arshavin (Zenit St-Petersburg), 64 pts
7. David Villa (Valencia), 55 pts
8. Kaka (AC Milan), 31 pts
9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan), 30 pts
10. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), 28 pts