MADRID: Thousands of delirious Real Madrid fans called for Cristiano Ronaldo to win a fifth Ballon d’Or on Sunday as the Spanish giants paraded the Champions League trophy for a record 12th time. Ronaldo scored twice in Real’s 4-1 thrashing of Juventus in Cardiff on Saturday as Madrid became the first side to retain the Champions League. Sporting a newly cropped haircut, Ronaldo was the star of a spectacular lights and firework show as 81,000 fans crammed into Real’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium. “Cristiano Ballon d’Or,” the Portuguese sang along with the fans as he was lifted into the air by his teammates. Ronaldo is the hot favourite to win the annual award for the best player in the world for a fifth time that would see him equal Barcelona rival Lionel Messi’s record as Real also beat out Barca to win La Liga. “The truth is it has been a spectacular season,” added Ronaldo.
It is the first time Madrid have won both La Liga and the Champions League in the same season for 59 years. “Thanks for the love you have shown since the first match,” said Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. “We knew this season was going to be different. “The team has worked hard from the first minute…we have done a marvellous double.” Earlier, overseen by strict security measures, the Madrid squad greeted local government dignitaries before parading the famous trophy in an open top bus around the Cibeles fountain in the city centre where thousands of fans had gathered. “The players have entered into the legend of Real Madrid and of football, as has our coach,” said club president Florentino Perez, as he reserved special praise for Zinedine Zidane. “He is the only one to win two consecutive Champions Leagues,” added Perez. “That is why he is already the best coach in the world.” The Frenchman, who won the Champions League as a legendary player for Real between 2001 and 2006, has enjoyed spectacular success since taking his first role in senior management just 18 months ago. “I want to thank all of you,” Zidane told fans as chants of his name rang around the Bernabeu. “This is what we are here for. It has been a spectacular year thanks to you and in the end we won the double.” A third Champions League win in four years has drawn comparisons to the great Real side that won the first five editions of the European Cup between 1955 and 1960. “I feel like this is the best team in history,” Alvaro Mora, a fan who had travelled over 500 kilometres from the southern city of Almeria to take in the celebrations, told AFP.
And like Real’s performance on the pitch at the Principality Stadium as they tore the Italian champions apart with goals from Casemiro and Marco Asensio adding to Ronaldo’s double, there was no sign of the Madrid fans’ tiring of success. “It is the best thing that could happen,” said Colombian shop worker Jose Ordonez, 54, who took in the festivities with his two sons. “We promised to return and we have returned as champions,” added Ramos as the squad visited the home of Madrid’s local government and the city hall. “I hope to return many more times and that we can celebrate many more titles.” — AFP