Eamon Dunphy believes Cristiano Ronaldo has reached the same level as three-time World Cup winner Pele after claiming the Ballon d’Or award on Monday.
Ronaldo saw off Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery to break the Barcelona star’s sequence of four wins in a row.
Dunphy, who criticised Ronaldo strongly in the past, said he has obtained all the tools needed to be a footballing great.
The RTÉ analyst remarked: “He has come on in the last two years to become a very great player.
“Pele presented the award and he is up there with Pele now I think.
“In the last seven days Eusebio, another great Portugese player, passed away. I think it's appropriate and poignant and he was clearly extremely moved to receive the award.
“He has won it before, but this time beating Messi and Ribery, it reminds us how great some of the players in the modern era are.
“It is a fitting award, I'm glad he has won it, even for getting his country to the World Cup finals next summer in the most astonishing fashion against Sweden.
“Overall, his behaviour has changed; his demeanour and his contribution to the team. His brilliance was never in doubt. But to be a great player, you need other things and he has acquired them. It's delightful, from somebody who was a critic of his for many years.”
“He has finally become the player we always hoped he would be"
Dunphy added that Ronaldo’s emotion when accepting award is a sign of his development, with the thoughts of Eusebio in his mind when collecting the trophy.
He said: “I think in a strange way it is a sign of his maturity because he realises Eusebio passed away last week and he is mature enough to know that these things do have meaning. Most awards like Oscars and things like that, they have some meaning.
“The greatest thing for a footballer is the acclaim and respect of your generation, of the people, the crowds and more importantly the players. Nobody including Messi, Ribery and others would begrudge Ronaldo this award.
“He has finally become the player we always hoped he would be.”