The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
Cristiano Ronaldo has won the FIFA World Player of the Year Award, which is appropriate, because Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player in the world over the past twelve months. Lionel Messi, who finished second, and Fernando Torres, who finished third, do more to warm my heart, but it was Ronaldo who occupied the perilous center of everybody’s lens and rifle sight last year, and that didn’t happen by chance.
Rather than repeating everything I wrote after his Ballon d’Or win last month, actually, I’ll just link to it. What’s happened since then is that he crashed his Ferrari into a tunnel, which didn’t suddenly grant him unambiguous significance. But there’s no other footballer who wouldn’t have been diminished by all the ridicule that followed (from me, too). With Ronaldo, all that mockery seems to one side of the truth. Even if you can’t put your finger on what the truth is, which was basically my argument after the Ballon d’Or, it’s not hard to spot the destiny that’s going to carry him through every attempt to tear him down—probably pouting, spiky, and with the collar of his polo shirt turned up, but intact at least until he gives in to his own frustration.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (935 points)
2. Lionel Messi (678)
3. Fernando Torres (203)
4. Kaka (183)
5. Xavi (155)
by Brian Phillips · January 12, 2009