Ronaldo voted best in the world
MADRID, Spain (AP):
After giving a European Championship title to Portugal and another Champions League trophy to Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo ends 2016 with something just for himself - his fourth World Player of the Year award.
Ronaldo won his third Ballon d'Or award, which this year is being handed out by France Football magazine separately from FIFA. Ronaldo also took home the Ballon d'Or prize in 2013 and 2014, and the FIFA award in 2008 while still playing for Manchester United.
The Portugal forward is also in contention for FIFA's prize this year, along with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, who finished second and third to Ronaldo yesterday, respectively.
"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. Messi won a record fifth award last year.
"For me, it's a great honour 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."
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's teammate Gareth Bale, who led Wales to the semi-finals at Euro 2016, was sixth. Leicester had Riyad Mahrez finishing seventh and Jamie Vardy eighth. Madrid defender Pepe and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon tied for ninth.
The 31-year-old Ronaldo was picked from a list of 30 players by a group of 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 poll of fans, will be handing out its own award in January.
"I'm happy because I worked very hard to win this," Ronaldo said. "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."