Mireia Belmonte wishes you a Happy 2017

Mireia Belmonte raises a glass to wish you all a Happy 2017 from the front cover of today's print edition of AS and all of us here would like to echo those sentiments and express our gratitude to you all for following us during another year, either in the print version or one of the digital formats. The New Year is a special one for us because at the end of the year, AS will celebrate its 50th birthday. The paper was born on 6 December 1967, with a front cover dedicated to the great boxer Sombrita, and Manolo Santana, qwho had just returned from another triumphant Davis Cup win.

2016 passes and leaves us with many absent friends. Sport was rocked by the blows of losing two greats: Muhammad Ali and Johan Cruyff. The former, for me is the greatest sportsman who has ever lived not just for his excellent technique and physical power but always his prominence as a social leader. He risked losing everything he had to defend his people. Johan Cruyff gave us a new vision of football which permitted Barça and the Spanish national team to reach unprecedented heights. Others have left us, among them a deep personal loss for me, Perico Fernández, and the well respected figures Carlos Alberto, Cesare Maldini and Vera Caslavska. All will be dearly missed.

On a happy note, this year also gave us the Olympic Games. The strength of sport can overcome any difficulty, and the proof of that came in the 17 medals which the Spanish team brought back in spite of the recent crisis. In football, Barça and Madrid shared the spoils with three trophies each with Madrid tasting glory at international level - with cliffhanger wins right at the eleventh hour. Above all it was a great year for Zidane and for Cristiano Ronaldo, who won Champions League and Euro 2016 winners medals as well as the Ballon d'Or. One good year comes to an end and another is about to start, in our 50th anniversary year. We wish you a Happy, peaceful and prosperous 2017!