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UEFA Player Of The Year – Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is the third nominee and clear favourite on the European Player of the Year shortlist, but can he beat Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben? We take a look at his illustrious career.

The 29-year-old started his career in Madeira, but soon joined Portuguese giants Sporting after a successful trial and scored twice on his league debut. He became the first player to ever play for Sporting’s under-16, under-17, under18, B-team and the first team within one season.

At the age of 15, he was diagnosed with a racing heart, which could have ended his career, but luckily a surgery rectified the problem. Three years later, at just 18, he was whisked away to Old Trafford after impressing United players in a pre-season friendly to inaugurate Sporting's new stadium.

In England, he won the FA Cup in his first season with United, scoring the opener in a 3-0 final defeat of Millwall FC, and came to the fore for Portugal at UEFA EURO 2004, registering his first international goal in the opening loss to Greece and excelling thereafter, winning a place in UEFA's All-Star Squad.

He enjoyed a brilliant 2006/07 campaign, winning the league with United and both player and footballer of the year prizes (as well as the young player award). He retained both those personal accolades in 2007/08 thanks to a phenomenal scoring run and finished top marksman in the Premier League with 31 goals and the UEFA Champions League with eight goals, both of which United won.

2008 was arguably his most successful year as he won the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year. He helped United to another domestic title in 2009 but lost the UEFA Champions League final to FC Barcelona in his last game for the Red Devils.

He then signed a six-year contract with Madrid in June 2009 after a world record €92m move and in his second season picked up the ESM Golden Shoe, registering a record 40 Liga goals in 34 games, and headed the winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona.

He bettered that total in 2011/12 with 46 goals as Madrid won the Liga title, but it was not enough to retain the ESM Golden Shoe due to Lionel Messi's astonishing half-century of strikes for Barcelona.

Ronaldo's own remarkable tally of 69 goals in all competitions in 2013, including a UEFA Champions League record of 17, helped earn the FIFA Ballon d'Or for a second time and his side to win the tenth European Cup – the famous La Decima.

With 31 La Liga he was also the leading goal-scorer in Spain and shared winner of the European Golden Shoe. The perfect season was rounded off with the Copa del Rey trophy, which indicate it will be hard for Neuer and Robben to beat Roanldo for the prestigious persona;l accolade.

The winner will be announced at the Champions League draw at 17:45 today and we will bring you all the action.

Do you think Cristiano Ronaldo can win the European Player of the Year award? Have your say in the comment section below. 

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UEFA Player Of The Year – Manuel Neuer

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