Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or for a fourth time on Monday night, beating Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann to world football’s top individual prize for 2016, Soccernet reports.
Ronaldo, who previously won the award in 2008, and in 2013 and 2014 when it was officially the FIFA Ballon d’Or, is only the second player to win it a total of four times, trailing only Messi’s record of five.
The honour caps a memorable year that saw Ronaldo win the Champions League with Real Madrid and the European Championship with Portugal – the country’s first major footballing silverware.
Ronaldo, 31, has scored 51 goals in 54 games for club and country in 2016.
“It is a special moment. It means that all my sacrifice was worth it. I feel very happy to win this. I worked very hard,” Ronaldo said in accepting the award.
“A lot of people helped me get here, and it is not easy to get here. You can count on one hand players who maintain this level year after year. I am one of them, and that is a source of pride for me.”
Real Madrid are preparing to take on Club America in the semifinals of the Club World Cup in Japan.
Messi, 29, who has won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, won La Liga and the Copa del Rey with Barcelona and helped Argentina to the Copa America Centenario final in 2016.
Griezmann, 25, was recognised after winning the Golden Boot at Euro 2016, a tournament in which he helped France reach the final. He also played an important role for Atletico as they reached the Champions League final, which they lost on penalties to Real.
Earlier this year, France Football, which organised the Ballon d’Or award since 1956, ended a six-year relationship with FIFA in which they combined with the world football governing body’s World Player of the Year award.
After the split, FIFA announced the introduction of its own Best FIFA Men’s Player award – with the same three finalists – announced at a ceremony in Zurich on January 9. (Punchng.com)