Ronaldo tops Premier League poll ahead of Roy Keane
Cristiano Ronaldo spent just six years in English football but as he celebrates his 30th birthday today the former Manchester United star has been voted as the greatest player to have graced the Premier League.
A survey conducted by Usurv for Press Association Sport showed Ronaldo was the people's choice, finishing ahead of Thierry Henry and Ryan Giggs, who joined him on the fantasy podium.
Ronaldo was brought to Old Trafford by Alex Ferguson as a raw 18-year-old in 2003, and departed for Real Madrid in 2009 with three Premier League titles, a Champions League winners' medal and an FA Cup, and as the reigning FIFA world player of the year.
The Portuguese forward's extraordinary success has continued unabated in Spain, following what was at the time a record £80million transfer. Ronaldo has plundered goals and broken records at a breathtaking rate and developed a keen rivalry with Barcelona's Lionel Messi, the pair now firmly established as the leading two players of their era.
Ronaldo's talent was fine-tuned at United, where he scored 118 goals in 292 appearances, fully justifying his early billing as 'the new George Best'.
In an online poll of 1,000 members of the public, the choice offered was between Ronaldo, Henry, Giggs and fellow luminaries Eric Cantona, Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Bergkamp, Steven Gerrard, Alan Shearer, Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.
Marginally over a quarter of those surveyed chose an 11th option - specified as 'other/don't know'.
Ronaldo snared 177 of the 747 votes cast for one of the chosen star names, a 24 per cent share once the fence-sitters and contrarians are removed from the calculations.
Next in line was Arsenal favourite Henry, with 18 per cent of support, followed by Ronaldo's former team-mate Giggs - the most decorated player in the league - on 13 per cent.
French maverick Cantona, the key on-field figure in establishing the Red Devils as the Premier League's early dominant force, took a 12 per cent share, as did the division's record goalscorer Shearer.
Keane, who sneered at prawn sandwiches and brought both brawn and brain to Ferguson's best teams, might be unimpressed by his two per cent haul of votes, but he still edged out old Arsenal foe Vieira who took a one per cent slice.