CRISTIANO RONALDO WINS FIFTH BALLON D’OR TO EQUAL LIONEL MESSI
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo beat Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or award for the fifth time – and the second year in a row.
Victory took the 32-year-old Portugal international level with 30-year-old Argentine Messi, who won the most recent of his five awards in 2015.
Messi’s ex-Barcelona team-mate Neymar, now at Paris St-Germain, was third.
Last season, Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and their first La Liga title since 2012.
“This is something I look forward to every year,” he said.
“Thanks to my Real Madrid team-mates. And I want to thank the rest of the people who helped me reach this level.”
The 32-year-old netted 25 times in La Liga last term and added 12 goals in the Champions League, including a brace in the final against Juventus.
“I’m very happy. To get this prize in Paris is a great experience, it’s marvelous,” Ronaldo told L’Equipe TV.
“It’s a great moment of my career. It’s something I wish I have every year.
We had a marvelous year. I was the [top] goalscorer of the Champions League, so I want to thank my team-mates.
“They were important for me. And also thanks everybody who helped me to be in great form during the season.”
It’s the second straight year Ronaldo has won the award presented by France Football, and he was also named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016-17 in October.
Ronaldo also took home the Ballon d’Or in 2008, 2013, and 2014.
FIFA formerly awarded the Ballon d’Or in conjunction with France Football, but the two entities split their prizes last year.
The Portugal star was joined in the top 30 by six of his Real Madrid team-mates: Karim Benzema (25th place), Toni Kroos (17th), Marcelo (16th), Isco (12th), Sergio Ramos (sixth) and Modric (fifth).
Ronaldo has picked up where he left off last season in this year’s Champions League, scoring in all six of Madrid’s group-stage matches – a feat that had never been accomplished before .
But he hasn’t matched that form in La Liga, netting just two times in 10 appearances thus far.