Ballon d’Or is Cristiano’s achievement, nobody else’s – former coach

2014-01-19 06:00

Paolo Cardoso, the coach who discovered two-time World Footballer of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, is overjoyed that his protégé won this year’s Ballon d’Or award despite the “campaign’’ against him in Europe and being insulted by Fifa supremo Sepp Blatter.

The former Sporting Lisbon coach, in South Africa to head the Hoy Park Sports Development Centre in Durban, told City Press he had SMSed Ronaldo, who he signed at the age of 12 from a local Madeira team, to congratulate him.

“My wife also spoke to his mother on the phone. Cristiano is so happy, so excited about the award. He has won it before, but this time it is even more special,” enthused the coach. “Crristiano is a fantastic player, but there has been the campaign against him in Europe, the comments from Sepp Blatter, so it means even more.’’

At Lisbon, Cardoso, who also worked with Manchester United’s Nani, helped produce more than 30 Portuguese internationals and other 100 players who reached first-team level in various European leagues. Ronaldo, who was traded by local Madeira team in debt to Sporting, was the best he had ever worked with.

“I was responsible for the technical report recommending that we sign him. He arrived at Under-13 team training. He was 12. The minute Cristiano got the ball, he started dribbling everybody.

“I thought, ‘wow I’ve never seen talent like this in my life’. The boy was fantastic. After the game the team surrounded him asking who he was and where he came from. I rated him as ‘outstanding’,’’ he said.

“Ronaldo was a remarkable player with an incredible commitment to his craft.

“At the academy, we would catch him in the gym, training alone at midnight while others sneaked out to night clubs. He would wear ankle weights to class and dribble all the time as he believed that when he took them off on the field, he would fly,’’ Cardoso said.

Proud as he is, Cardoso believes the award is all Ronaldo’s.

“As a coach you almost feel like a father when the boy does well and achieves great things. But this is Cristiano’s achievement, nobody else’s. It is him who has done all the work.

“Yes, I am proud that I was his first professional coach, that I helped him along the way, but the achievement is all his,’’ he said.

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