After a year of remarkable success and some less welcome allegations, Cristiano Ronaldo insists he deserved to win FIFA’s inaugural The Best Men’s Player award for 2016.
The 31-year-old beat Lionel Messi to the prize at Monday’s gala after what he considers to be the best year of his career, in which he won the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup with Real Madrid, and EURO 2016 with Portugal.
Ronaldo claimed his fourth Ballon d’Or last month before following up that triumph with FIFA’s accolade – a revamp of the World Player of the Year award that was presented between 1991 and 2009.
“It was an unforgettable year at a collective and individual level,” Ronaldo told El Partidazo.
“I think it’s almost impossible to have a better year than this one.
“This is the best moment since I came to Madrid and also with the Portugal national team, which I can’t forget. I’m in the best moment of my career and I’m very happy.
“There were a lot of doubts and campaigns against me, inside and outside football, too. They wanted to hit me from all sides.
“The truth is that The Best prize was for the best, which is me. So I’m very happy.
“For the season I’ve had with both Madrid and the national team, for the trophies and the standards, I deserved to win. It’s that simple.”
Explaining his “campaigns” claim, Ronaldo admitted that he has been affected by allegations of tax evasion that emerged towards the end of last year.
He was accused by so-called ‘Football Leaks’ of hiding $215 million (€150 million) in tax havens through structures established by Gestifute, the company owned by his agent, Jorge Mendes.
Gestifute, having furiously denied the claims, published a document last month that they say was official confirmation that Ronaldo had declared assets and rights abroad to the total of more than $292 million (€203million).
The former Manchester United forward says he felt as though his image was being deliberately tarnished.
“I’ll tell you the truth: it upset me,” Ronaldo said.
“It upset me because you do things well, you help a lot of people – and I’ll mention the solidarity prize, which for me is one of the best ones I have in my museum – there are so many good things you do and people want to camouflage it with bad things that others do.
“It bothers me and it still bothers me, but justice will always prevail, so let’s wait and see what happens.”
Ronaldo said he would have preferred Messi and his Barcelona team-mates to attend the event in Switzerland, with the Catalans having kept their players in Spain in order to prioritise preparations for their Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao.
“I just said I would like them to be there because that would make the gala even more beautiful, but I’m not sad because I can’t be sad after winning a trophy,” he said.