Cristiano Ronaldo capped a brilliant year by being named as the winner of the Ballon d’Or for a fourth time in Paris on Monday night.
The Portugal and Real Madrid forward topped the poll of 173 journalists worldwide to take home France Football magazine’s coveted award, taking the majority vote despite his absence while he prepares for the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
In doing so he beat the likes of perennial rival Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, who finished second and third respectively.
2016 BALLON D’OR RESULT
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal / Real Madrid)
2. Lionel Messi (Argentina / Barcelona)
3. Antoine Griezmann (France / Atletico Madrid)
4. Luis Suarez (Uruguay / Barcelona)
5. Neymar (Brazil / Barcelona)
6. Gareth Bale (Wales / Real Madrid)
7. Riyad Mahrez (Algeria / Leicester City)
8. Jamie Vardy (England / Leicester City)
9. Pepe (Portugal / Real Madrid)
9. Gianluigi Buffon (Italy / Juventus)
11. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon / Borussia Dortmund)
12. Rui Patricio (Portugal / Sporting Lisbon)
13. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden / Manchester United)
14. Arturo Vidal (Chile / Bayern Munich)
14. Paul Pogba (France / Manchester United)
16. Robert Lewandowski (Poland / Bayern Munich)
17. Dimitri Payet (France / West Ham)
17. Luka Modric (Croatia / Real Madrid)
17. Toni Kroos (Germany / Real Madrid
NOTE: Of France Football’s 30-man shortlist, 11 players received no votes. They were: Aguero, De Bruyne, Dybala, Godin, Higuain, Iniesta, Koke, Lloris, Muller, Neuer and Ramos.
Ronaldo, who moves to within one of Messi’s record five Ballon d’Or wins, was the overwhelming favourite after a stellar 12 months in which he won Euro 2016, the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup.
The former Manchester United man also moves clear of three-time winners Marco van Basten, Michel Platini and the late Johan Cruyff.
The 31-year-old, who was not there to collect the award in person due to Real Madrid’s Japan commitments, described his latest triumph as ‘a dream come true.’
‘I never imagined winning this trophy four times,’ the former Manchester United man said. ‘I’m really happy and fulfilled.
‘When it’s the first time, the emotion is always special. But I I feel today like I did in 2008.
‘I have the opportunity to thank all of my team-mates, the national team, Real Madrid, all of the people and players who helped me to win this individual award.
‘As you can imagine I feel so proud and happy to receive this amazing and beautiful ball, I am so happy.’
Ronaldo has so far scored 51 goals in 55 games for club and country during 2016 but it was his success in the two big tournaments of the year that ultimately saw him reclaim the prize from Messi.
He played a crucial role as Real beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in May to become European champions for a record-extending 11th time.
Then two months later, Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016 in France to claim a major trophy for the first time – despite losing their talisman to injury early on in the final.
Football’s governing body, FIFA, 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 after separating itself from the Ballon d’or.
LAST 10 WINNERS
2007 – Kaka
2008 – Cristiano Ronaldo
2009 – Lionel Messi
2010 – Lionel Messi
2011 – Lionel Messi
2012 – Lionel Messi
2013 – Cristiano Ronaldo
2014 – Cristiano Ronaldo
2015 – Lionel Messi
2016 – Cristiano Ronaldo
Appearances – 13
Goals – 13
Assists – 3
Appearances – 42
Goals – 38
Assists – 14
Trophies – Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Euro 2016
SOURCE: DAILY MAIL