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.
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 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
“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.