Ron­aldo caps dream year with fourth Bal­lon d’Or

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo won his fourth Bal­lon d’Or yes­ter­day to get one over his neme­sis Lionel Messi in their long-run­ning duel for the ti­tle of best foot­baller on the planet. It was the per­fect end­ing to an­other fan­tas­tic year for the Real Madrid star, who won the Cham­pi­ons League for the sec­ond time in three sea­sons and then led Por­tu­gal to their first ma­jor ti­tle at Euro 2016 - al­beit he went off early in­jured and in tears in the sur­prise win over France.

As has been the case for al­most a decade now, the 31-year-old’s main ri­val was Messi - but the Barcelona and Ar­gen­tine mae­stro had to re­lin­quish the crown af­ter a less-than-stel­lar year for club and coun­try by his lofty stan­dards. Never one to play down his achieve­ments, Ron­aldo was spot­ted mid­week in train­ing hav­ing dyed his hair gold in an­tic­i­pa­tion and sev­eral me­dia out­lets pub­lished a photo ear­lier yes­ter­day ap­pear­ing to con­firm he was the win­ner, be­fore France Foot­ball made the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment.

Ron­aldo is now one Bal­lon d’Or be­hind last year’s win­ner Messi. “For me there is no de­bate. The Bal­lon will be for him,” Real Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane said af­ter his tal­is­man’s hat-trick saw off Atletico Madrid last month to un­der­pin Real’s dom­i­na­tion in La Liga. “He showed it last sea­son and he shows it again and again. We ex­pect a lot of him but he stands above ev­ery­one.”

De­spite such ef­fu­sive praise Ron­aldo, rested at the week­end ahead of the Club World Cup in Ja­pan, has had some neg­a­tive head­lines in the past week - not least per­tain­ing to ac­cu­sa­tions of tax eva­sion. Deny­ing any wrong­do­ing, he re­sponded by pub­lish­ing his fi­nan­cial records on Thurs­day, show­ing last year he earned a bumper €227 mil­lion ($240 mil­lion). “You be­lieve I am wor­ried? He who owes noth­ing, fears noth­ing,” Ron­aldo told broad­caster RTP.

Ron­aldo first won the Bal­lon d’Or in 2008 af­ter Pre­mier League and Cham­pi­ons League tri­umphs with Manch­ester United. But it was only in 2013 that he added his sec­ond - Messi had hogged it be­fore then - and Ron­aldo made it a hat-trick the fol­low­ing year. The first Bal­lon d’Or was won by Stan­ley Matthews, at the time with Black­pool, who beat Al­fredo Di Ste­fano for the in­au­gu­ral ti­tle in 1956. This year marks the end of six years of joint awards by founders France Foot­ball and FIFA, which will re­vert to be­stow­ing a “Best” ac­co­lade of its own on Jan 9 to both male and fe­male play­ers. The Bal­lon d’Or will hence­forth be de­cided by a vote of 173 jour­nal­ists while na­tional team cap­tains and man­agers will no longer have a say. — AFP

BUENOS AIRES: Boca Ju­nior’s goal­keeper Axel Werner (L) fails to stop River Plate’s for­ward Lu­cas Alario’s (not in frame) ball dur­ing their Ar­gentina First Di­vi­sion foot­ball match at El Mon­u­men­tal sta­dium, in Buenos Aires, on Sun­day. —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.