Cristiano Ronaldo became the 26th footballer to win the 'Marca Legend' award


Cristiano Ronaldo bagged yet another trophy for his collection this week.

Fresh from a season that saw him win the Serie A crown and UEFA Nations League, Ronaldo was present to collected the coveted 'Marca Legend' award for his achievements in football.

The Spanish publication, whom are forever linked with Ronaldo's former side Real Madrid, only hand out the accolade on rare occasions and were keen for the Portuguese to join the ranks.

Accompanied by family members and his partner Georgina Rodriguez, Ronaldo made an appearance in the Spanish capital to collect the prize.

The award was presented to him by none other than Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, but only after Ronaldo had entered the room to Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best'.

Ronaldo given 'Marca Legend' award

And while Ronaldo didn't rise to Real Madrid fans wanting him to return, Ronaldo still remarked in his acceptance speech: "A big part of this award owes to what I did at Real Madrid."

The award was inaugurated in 1997 to commemorate the greatest athletes in professional sport and less than 80 individuals have been able to hold the golden plaque.

Some of the first award winners included NBA legend Michael Jordan, chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov, golfing great Seve Ballesteros and tennis giant Pete Sampras.


The 26 football winners

And while every sport has been recognised throughout the award's history, it should come as no surprise that football has become one of the most widely rewarded disciplines.

In fact, according to Marca's official website, 26 footballers have collected their plaque over the last 22 years with Ronaldo bringing them into a second quarter-century of presentations.

But just who joins Ronaldo on the coveted list? Well, take a look at the full breakdown below with each recipient labelled by the year in which Marca recognised their achievements. 

1. Pele (1997)

2. Johan Cruyff (1999)

3. Diego Maradona (1999)

4. Alfredo Di Stefano (1999)

5. Francisco Gento (2007)

6. Zinedine Zidane (2008)

Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane waves to s

7. Luis Aragones (2008)

8. Raul (2009)

9. Lionel Messi (2009)

10. Kaka (2009)

11. Paolo Maldini (2009)

UEFA Champions League Final: Liverpool v AC Milan

12. Vicente Del Bosque (2011)

13. Angel Maria Villar (2011)

14. Ronaldo Nazario (2011)

15. Fabio Capello (2011)

16. Andres Iniesta (2011)

Spain's midfielder Andrés Iniesta kisses

17. Fernando Hierro (2011)

18. Franz Beckenbauer (2012)

19. Fernando Torres (2012)

20. Quini (2012)

21. Luis Arconada (2012)

22. Marcelino Garcia Toral (2014)

23. Xavi (2015) 


24. Luis Suarez (2016)

25. Hugo Sanchez (2018)

26. Cristiano Ronaldo (2019)

That's a pretty illustrious list of footballers, even if Marca are understandably leaning towards major players in Spanish football history both for achievements as players and managers.

We must clarify that the 'Luis Suarez' rewarded three years ago wasn't the current Barcelona striker, but the former Camp Nou forward who played for them between 1955 and 1961.

Further to that, we're not entirely sure why Marca decided against crediting any footballers between 1999 and 2007 nor why it took them so long to reward Ronaldo compared to Messi.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga

Nevertheless, it's an award that - in being so scarcely given out - has managed to create a list of football legends amongst which Ronaldo has rightfully taken his place.

Who do you think is the greatest footballer in history? Have your say say in the comments section below.

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