Cristiano Ronaldo wins ‘Symbol of Portugal’ award

Lisbon, Jan 4: Portuguese superstar footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is to be officially recognised by Portuguese president as a “Symbol of Portugal” through one of the country’s highest honours.

Ronaldo will be awarded the title of “Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry the Nevigator” by President Anibal Cavaco Silva next Tuesday at Lisbon’s presidential palace, Xinhua reported Friday.

According to a statement issued by the presidential palace Friday, the decision to grant Ronaldo the award is down to his contribution to the “international projection of the country” and to his “example of perseverance for future generations”.

Following the announcement, president of Portugal’s Football Association Fernando Gomes said in a statement that the award “expresses the sentiment of the Portuguese in general for what Cristiano Ronaldo has achieved, not only in terms of national football but also for the elevation of Portugal’s name abroad”.

Gomes also highlighted Ronaldo’s “magnificent performance” in Sweden Nov 19 last year, which enabled Portugal to qualify for the World Cup in June.

The honour comes about a week before the announcement of the Ballon d’Or results in January 2014.

The Real Madrid Forward already won a Ballon d’Or trophy in 2008 and is one of the three finalists this year together with Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi.

Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo opened a museum in his birthplace of Madeira Island last month where he hopes to place another Ballon d’Or and other future trophies.

IANS