Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is delighted Cristiano Ronaldo will be named Ballon d'Or winner this week.

Ferguson turned down £70m from Real Madrid for Ronaldo last summer and sounded like a doting dad as the 23-year-old joined Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Best as European players of the year.

"It makes me proud," said Ferguson. "Without question he deserves it. For anyone to score 42 goals as a winger is phenomenal, and one of those came in the Champions League final. Nobody comes near to him.

"Teams get three or four bodies around him and systematically foul Ronaldo, but all the great players like Maradona, Cruyff and Pele have taken kicks.

"It didn't deter any of them and it doesn't Ronaldo. He has natural courage, a natural bravery. He had an operation in the summer as a result of the consistent kicks he's taken. But it hasn't stopped him."

Ferguson also revealed: "We knew he had two great feet when we signed him, but I had no idea he had such fantastic ability in the air.

"When Walter Smith was at the club I kept telling him about Ronaldo's heading ability. After three games, Walter complained he hadn't seen him jump. Then he scored a brilliant header against Birmingham. Walter turned to me and said: 'I won't mention it again!'."