Irish News

Faithful footballers scoop major awards

Two giants of the football world who relied on their Catholic faith for success in 2016 have received top honours at the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) inaugural Best Football Awards.

Portugese legend Cristiano Ronaldo was named the world’s leading player at a star-studded event in Zurich, Switzerland, last Monday night, while manager of Leicester City, Claudio Ranieri, who led his team to an astounding win in England’s Premier League, was named Best Male Coach.

Having led his nation’s team to victory at the Euro 2016 championships in France, Ronaldo said that, since the team’s defeat in the 2004 competition, “I asked God to give me another chance…I’ve always said I wanted to win a trophy with the national team and make history. And I did it. Thank God, things went well for us.”

Meanwhile, it was during Leicester’s meteoric rise to an incredible 5,000/1 victory in 2016 that it was revealed how Ranieri was regularly praying to St Rita – the patron saint of impossible causes – to sustain his team through the competition. 

For his part, after the League win, Ranieri said he is a devout Catholic who prays every night, often asking God, “if you can help me, thank you, if I don’t deserve, okay, thank you the same”. 

He added he has thanked God many times since Leicester’s win.