Tuesday 03 January 2017, 17:16

Santos: Cristiano is a surefire winner

There is not much that Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo do not know about each other. Santos was the player’s last coach in the Portuguese league prior to his move to Manchester United, while Ronaldo skippered Santos’ Portugal side to victory at UEFA EURO 2016 in France last summer. Just for good measure, the two are respectively in the running for the men’s coach and player accolades at next week’s The Best FIFA Football Awards™.

Though guarded about his nomination alongside Zinedine Zidane and Claudio Ranieri, the 62-year-old Santos has no doubt Ronaldo will get the nod ahead of Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi: “I am convinced that Cristiano was the best player of 2016 because of all the things he won: the UEFA Champions League, which he’s already won a few times, and the EURO, a title that has evaded a lot of great players. He’s got it now, and he also picked up a number of individual awards throughout the year. There’s no doubt in my mind that he has to win it, or that he will actually go on and do so.”

As stated above, the story shared by Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Santos goes back many years before the UEFA EURO 2016 final, a night that ended with them working virtually side by side, famously urging the Portugal players on to victory.

“I can talk about him because I’ve known him since he was a boy,” added Santos. “He has the same technical skills that he’s always had, but now he’s added a whole set of other skills that serve him well off the pitch too. He’s an excellent captain and his team-mates have a lot of respect for him. If I had to describe him with the first thought that came into my head, it wouldn’t be very difficult for me: he’s the best in the world.”