In the end, it was a mere formality for Cristiano Ronaldo to receive the 2008 Ballon d'Or, confirming his status as the best footballer in Europe, if not the world.The promising show pony who started out at Sporting Lisbon has transformed himself into the stable stud of Old Trafford. Over the course of the last 12 months, he has dazzled us with plenty of goals and match winning performances to compliment the lollipops, endless dummies and back heels.The Manchester United winger's tally of 42 goals, Barclays Premier League and Champions League winners' medals and more tricks than the magic circle can keep up with, make him a fitting winner of France Football magazine's coveted prize.There was no need for a recount on the vote, the margin was as wide as the Grand Canyon. 446 points for Ronaldo ? a staggering 165 more than Barcelona's talisman Lionel Messi in second place ? and two more than Kaka managed last year when the AC Milan midfielder scooped the European Footballer of the Year.The Ballon d'Or is the barometer for which a footballer's success in a single season is measured. The vote is rarely unfair and the winner is usually just.
The honours list will show comparable one-season wonders like Igor Belanov (1986) and Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) winning Europe's top prize. Although theirs are not names bandied around as often as the likes of three-time winners Michel Platini or Marco van Basten, and nor did their careers enjoy the same longevity, they were both deserving winners for their respective years, as Ronaldo is for his.Ronaldo adds the Ballon d'Or to a host of other honours picked up for his stellar performances last season, including the FIFPro World Player of the Year and the top prizes from the Professional Footballers' Association and the Football Writers.No one has been more deserving than the Portuguese international. His vision ranges from the short to the horizon, his skill from the subtle to the sublime.Take a bow, Cristiano Ronaldo.