Cristiano Ronaldo already is off and running in soccer’s individual awards season.
The Real Madrid and Portugal superstar won France Football Magazine’s 2016 Ballon d’Or Award on Monday, beating rival Lionel Messi and 28 other finalists for one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes. Ronaldo won the award by vote of 173 leading soccer journalists, taking home the golden-ball trophy for the fourth time in his career.
Ronaldo re-claimed the Ballon d’Or from Messi, the 2015 winner, due to his standout performances for club and country. Ronaldo led Real Madrid to the 2016 Champions League title in early June. A month later he fired, then willed, Portugal to victory at Euro 2016.
The sight of him urging on his Portugal teammates from the sidelines during the Euro 2016 final win over France, despite suffering a knee injury earlier in the game, is one of the enduring soccer images of 2016.
Ronaldo previously won the Ballon d’Or in 2008, 2013 and 2014. Messi swept the years from 2009 to 2012 in addition to his 2015 triumph.
The Ballon d’Or Award and FIFA’s Best Player Award merged between 2010 and 2015. France Football and FIFA ended their agreement this year, separating men’s soccer’s two most coveted individual prizes once again. France Football published its final rankings, which likely will spark further debate.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/UEFA.tv
Thumbnail photo via Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal win Euro 2016.