Portugal and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or for a fourth time. Ronaldo was part of teams which won both the European Championships and the Champions League during the 2016/17 season.
The 31-year-old topped the poll of 173 journalists worldwide, with Barcelona and Argentina forward and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi in second position and Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid and France third.
Ronaldo played a crucial role as Real beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in May to become European champions for a record-extending 11th time. Just two months later, Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016 in France to claim a major trophy for the first time, despite Ronaldo being forced off with injury early on in the final.
Ronaldo has scored 48 goals in 52 appearances club and country during 2016, although he was unable to accept the award in person as he in Japan as Real Madrid prepare to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The last time he won the Ballon d’Or was in 2014, the year it merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year accolade. The award moves Ronaldo clear of three-time winners Marco van Basten, Michel Platini and the late Johan Cruyff.
Commenting on his triumph, Ronaldo said: “I never thought in my mind to win four times the Golden Ball, so I am so pleased and so happy. “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.
Ronaldo’s Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale, who helped drive Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, was voted in sixth place, with Ronaldo then confirmed as overall winner before the rest of the placings were announced.
Messi and Griezmann were eventually confirmed as second and third in the rankings, with Barcelona duo Luis Suarez and Neymar fourth and fifth, respectively. Leicester duo Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were voted in seventh and eigth, respectively, after helping the Foxes win the Premier League title.
Paul Pogba became the world’s most expensive player when he joined Manchester United from Juventus for £89m in the summer, and the France international placed 14th, one spot behind club team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic West Ham’s French playmaker Dimitri Payet ranked joint 17th.