Cristiano Ronaldo wins fourth Ballon d’Or trophy
Ronaldo wins fourth Ballon d’Or to cap ‘ best year’ of stellar career
After winning a European championship for Portugal and another Champions League trophy for Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo ended 2016 with something just for himself — his fourth world player of the year award.
The 31-year-old on Monday won his third Ballon d’Or award, which this year was handed out by France Football magazine separately from FIFA.
Ronaldo also took home the prize in 2013 and 2014, and won the FIFA award in 2008 while playing for Manchester United.
The Portuguese forward is also in contention for FIFA’s top individual honor this year, along with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, who finished second and third in the Ballon d’Or voting.
“This was likely the best year of my career, individually and collectively,” Ronaldo said in a pre-recorded video. “It was unforgettable.”
Only Ronaldo and Messi have been voted the best in the world since 2007, when Kaka won the prize. Barcelona star Messi won a record fifth award last year.
“For me it’s a great honor to receive my fourth golden ball,” Ronaldo said.
“I never thought in my mind to win it four times, so I’m so pleased, I’m so happy. I have to thank all my teammates, the national team, Real Madrid, all the people, all the players who helped me win this individual award.”
Five big moments for Portugal’s ‘Captain Fantastic’
Nou balance Wolfsburg wounded
Messi was runner-up for the fifth time in his career, while Griezmann finished third after a remarkable year with France and Atletico Madrid.
Luis Suarez was fourth and Barcelona teammate Neymar fifth in the results announced by the Paris-based magazine.
Ronaldo teammate Gareth Bale, who led Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, was sixth. Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez finished seventh and his teammate Jamie Vardy eighth.
Madrid defender Pepe and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon tied for ninth.
Ronaldo topped a list of 30 players picked by international journalists selected by France Football, which for the previous six years awarded the coveted prize in partnership with FIFA.
Soccer’s governing body, which relies on the votes of coaches, team captains, journalists and — for the first time — an online fan poll, will hand out its own award in January.
“I’m happy because I worked very hard to win this,” Ronaldo added.
“It’s not easy to stay at a high level year after year. You can count on one hand the players who can do it, there are very few who can, and I do it year after year. That makes me very proud.”
Last month, Ronaldo’s Madrid contract was extended until 2021, tying him to Los Blancos until he is 36.
It has been an up-anddown season for him so far, but he could not have finished Spot-on in Milan Hungary heroics the previous one stronger.
Ronaldo netted the decisive penalty in a shootout against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final as the Spanish giant claimed Europe’s top club title for the second time in three seasons.
He also won the tournament with Manchester United in 2008.
Ronaldo scored a record 11 times in the group stage of the competition last season and finished with a total of 16, one short of the record he set in 2014.
He is the Champions League’s all-time top scorer with 95 goals, and is two away Derby delight from becoming the first player to score 100 goals in European club competitions.
With Portugal, Ronaldo achieved one of his greatest feats, helping the nation win its first European title after several close calls, including a runner-up finish as host in 2004 when it lost to Greece in the final.
“To win a title for the first time with Portugal was something that was missing from my resume,” Ronaldo said.
“It was one of the most important moments of my life.”
Ronaldo scored the opener in Portugal’s 2-0 semifinal vic- tory against Wales and then watched from the bench as his teammates defeated France 1-0 in extra time.
He played only 25 minutes of the final at Stade de France in July before being substituted because of a left-knee injury.
The former Sporting Lisbon player also won the European Super Cup with Madrid, as well as UEFA’s award as the best player in Europe last term.
Ronaldo is currently in Japan to play in FIFA’s Club World Cup, a competition he has won twice, once each with United and Real. Ronaldo factfile
Real Madrid is currently riding a club-record 35-game unbeaten run, but back in April it was old foe Barcelona which seemed unbeatable as it carried a 39-game streak without defeat into El Clasico.
Yet, despite Madrid going a goal and then a man down, Ronaldo’s late winner silenced Camp Nou and signaled a swing in the balance of power for the rest of 2016.
Real’s last loss came in a shocking 2-0 reverse to Wolfsburg in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal — just four days after the victo- ry at Barcelona.
However, amid a typically fervent atmosphere at Santiago Bernabeu, Ronaldo inspired a Madrid fightback with a hat-trick to earn a 3-0 triumph and progress to the semifinals.
Ronaldo didn’t manage to score in regulation time in the Champions League final, but proved decisive as Real broke Atletico Madrid hearts for the second time in three years.
Ronaldo scored the winning penalty as Real won an 11th European Cup 5-3 in a shootout after the teams couldn’t be separated in a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes in Milan. This was likely the best year of my career, individually and collectively. It was unforgettable. I never thought in my mind to win it four times.” Cristiano Ronaldo Ronaldo described winning Euro 2016 with Portugal — its first major tournament win — as the “happiest moment of my life”.
However, Portugal’s unexpected run to glory in France could have been very different had he not rescued it from an embarrassing early exit at the group stage.
After draws against Iceland and Austria, Portugal trailed Hungary three times in its final group game only to be bailed out.
Ronaldo teed up Nani for the first equalizer before scoring two of his three goals in the tournament to ensure Portugal sneaked through as one of the best thirdplace sides. While Ronaldo’s achievement in winning both the Champions League and Euro 2016 was the reason he won the award, the 31-year-old also silenced the critics who suggested he was past his best at the start of the season with a hat-trick to again vanquish Atletico last month.
In the last ever La Liga clash between Madrid’s two great rivals at Vicente Calderon stadium – which will be demolished as Atletico move to a new home – Ronaldo became the all-time leading scorer in Madrid derbies to almost certainly banish Atletico from the title race.
Name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro Age: 31 Date of birth: Feb 5, 1985 Place of birth: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal Position: Forward Clubs: Sporting Lisbon (2002-03), Manchester United (2003-09), Real Madrid (since 2009) National team: Portugal International appearances: 136 International goals: 68 International debut: Aug 20, 2003, Portugal 1 Kazakhstan 0 Honors Club Champions League (3): 2008, 2014, 2016
Club World Cup (2): 2008, 2014
English Championships (3): 2007, 2008, 2009 English FA Cup (1): 2004 English League Cups (2): 2006, 2009
Community Shields (2): 2007, 2008
Spanish Championship (1): 2012
Spanish Cup (2): 2011, 2014
Spanish Supercup (1): 2012
Portuguese Supercup (1): 2002 International European Championships: winner (2016) Individual Honors Ballon d’Or (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016)
FIFA World Player of the Year (2008)
Four times top European scorer (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015)
Three times top scorer in the Spanish league: (2011: 41 goals; 2014: 31 goals; 2015: 48 goals)
Top scorer in the English Premiership with 31 goals (2008)
Five times top scorer in the Champions League (2008 with eight goals, 2013 with 12, 2014 with 17, 2015 with 10, 2015-16 with 16)
Record of goals in one season of the Champions League (2013-14 with 17)
Cristiano Ronaldo poses with the Ballon d’Or in the Trophy Room at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Winning the award as global soccer’s best player for the fourth time capped a terrific year for the Real Madrid star.