PARIS: Cristiano Ronaldo ended a brilliant year – winning the Champions League, guiding his national team to victory in the Euros – with his fourth Ballon d’Or win in Paris on Monday night. The Real Madrid forward topped the 173 journalists’ poll and despite his absence due to preparation for the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, he took majority of the votes. To achieve this milestone, he beat the likes of ‘rival’ Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, who finished second and third respectively. Ronaldo was the favourite to win the award after unbelievable 12 months, winning the EURO 2016, the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup. The former Manchester United man moved clear of three-time winners and legends Marco van Basten, Michel Platini and the late Johan Cruyff.
Though he was not there to collect the award in person due to commitments with Real Madrid, the 31-year-old described his latest triumph as ‘a dream come true.’ “I never imagined winning this trophy four times,” the Real Madrid star said, “I feel really happy. When it’s the first time, the emotion is always special. But this feels like 2008.” “I would like to thank all of the people and players who helped me to win this individual award. As you can imagine I feel proud and happy to receive this beautiful ball, I am so happy,” Cristiano said. Ronaldo has scored 51 goals in 55 games for club and country during 2016 but it was his success in two major tournaments that ultimately saw him reclaim the prize, playing a crucial role in Real’s victory against rivals Atletico Madrid in May to become European champions for a record-extending 11th time and then helping Portugal at Euro 2016 in France to claim a major international trophy for the first time.
Ronaldo certainly had an amazing year. Here are some of the highlights of his Ballon d’Or worthy campaign:
|April 3:||Scoring the winner in the El Clasico|
|April 13:||Scoring a hat-trick against Wolfsburg in the Champions League quarter-final|
|May 28:||Scores the winning penalty in the Champions League final|
|June 8:||Forbes names him the world’s highest paid sports star|
|June 14:||Becomes the first player to score in four consecutive Euros|
|July 10:||Lifting the Euro 2016 trophy as captain|
|July 22:||Had an airport named after him|
|Sept 2:||Became the best ranked player in FIFA, overtaking Messi|
|Nov 6:||Scores his 68th international goal – most by any active player|
|Nov 13:||Signs new deal with Real Madrid|
|Dec 12:||Wins his fourth Ballon d’Or|
He contributed immensely to Real Madrid’s success in 2016, playing 42 games and scoring 38 goals while providing 14 assists. He scored five hat-tricks – against Espanyol, Celta Vigo, Wolfsburg, Alaves and Atletico – throughout the year. He also scored three of Portugal’s nine goals at the Euros.