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Born-again Cristiano is my player of the year.

Byline: By Ian Carbis South Wales Echo

The voting for football's player of the year begins soon and there can only be one winner - Cristiano Ronaldo, who's 22 today.

Manchester United's 4-0 demolition of Tottenham yesterday illustrated just how far the Portuguese winger has come this season.

He's still plagued by accusations of diving (I still remember Middlesbrough this season), but his examples of sublime skill, pace and power outweigh any antics.

We have to remind ourselves that this was going to be Ronaldo's annus miserabilis, thanks to his World Cup winking contribution and the part he played in England's downfall.

It was going to be something akin to David Beckham's 1998-99 following his sending off in St Etienne, when effigies were burnt outside a London pub and he had to endure obscene chants about his missus.

The boos of derision, all met with a sideways grin, have been replaced by boos of respect. You know the ones.

The catcalls fans give opposition players who are just too bloody good.

All season Ronaldo has taken the mick out of rival full-backs, tying most of them up in knots, with South Korean international Lee Young-Pyo his latest victim as the White Hart Lane fans watched on in awe.

Oh yes, Ronaldo is also United's top scorer, making a mockery of the assumption they would miss Ruud van Nistelrooy - yesterday's penalty was his 15th goal of the season.

And to top it off, he is going out with former Hollyoaks babe Gemma Atkinson.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 5, 2007
Words:251
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