2016 Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo: It was an unforgettable year

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Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has won the 2016 Ballon d’Or, crowning him the world’s best player for the fourth time.

The 31-year-old, won the Champions League with his club and the European Championship with his country in the best summer of his career and he takes the prestigious prize away from Lionel Messi, his great rival, whose Ballon d’Or win last year was his fifth in total.

As widely anticipated Barcelona’s Lionel Messi came second, with France and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Greizmann third. Leicester duo Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy came 7th and 8th respectively.

“It was an unforgettable year, possibly the best of my career on a collective and individual level,” he said upon being presented with the accolade, Marca reports.

“I must respect the Champions League, which is an impressive trophy, but I appreciate more the trophy I won with Portugal, which was a step higher.

“It’s my job, my profession and I really sacrifice myself. When you win something, it’s important that I put the team first. If Real Madrid and Portugal didn’t win anything, I couldn’t win this trophy.”

Winning his fourth award takes Ronaldo clear of Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten, who all won the prize three times, and clear in second in the all-time list. Ronaldo’s first triumph came in 2008 during his time as a Manchester United player and he also won in 2013 and 2014 when the France Football award merged with FIFA’s World Player of the Year Award to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

This year France Football took back sole control of the prize, first awarded to England and Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews in 1956, meaning votes were the responsibility of a select number of journalists across Europe, rather than international captains and coaches.

Ronaldo, who signed a new five-year contract in November, was recognised for his dominance on the European stage.

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