YOKOHAMA (Japan) • Cristiano Ronaldo said he has answered his critics in style as he rounded off a "spectacular" year with a hat-trick to win the Club World Cup for Real Madrid and add to his multitude of titles.
After his heroics floored Japan's Kashima Antlers 4-2 in extra time on Sunday, the Portuguese superstar summed up a remarkable season in which he has also lifted the Champions League, Super Cup, Euro 2016 and Ballon d'Or trophies.
"They always expect more of Cristiano," said Ronaldo. "It's been a week full of joy after winning the Ballon d'Or too. I thank my team-mates because without them, Cristiano couldn't win these individual awards."
The Portuguese forward showed why he was voted the world's best player for a fourth time last week, but there were also the moments of self-indulgence that make him such a polarising figure.
In the first half of the Club World Cup final, he even tripped over the ball after attempting one of his trademark stepovers.
But, as a nail-biting game went into extra time, Real's talisman pounced twice to give the Spanish giants a second world club title in three years and fifth in total.
It capped an astonishing year during which he helped Real become champions of Europe for an 11th time, added a Super Cup and led Portugal to a stunning Euro 2016 title.
"People criticise me but I've shown my quality on the pitch for many years and I had a spectacular season for Real Madrid and Portugal," the 31-year-old said.
It was inevitable that at a tournament where Fifa trialled video referees for the first time in official competition, the Portuguese was central to that plotline too.
When his semi-final goal against Club America was briefly reviewed - by accident as a video referee had inadvertently kept his finger on the intercom button, alerting the referee to a possible offside - Ronaldo fumed.
Moments later, he broke into a broad grin, as the referee confirmed his 377th goal in 366 games for Real - now 380 in 367.