Cristiano Ronaldo has equalled Lionel Messi’s record of five Ballon d’Or awards after claiming the 2017 prize in Paris.
Ronaldo led Real Madrid to a record 12th Champions League trophy in June, scoring hat-tricks against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in the quarter and semi-finals and a double in the 4-1 win over Juventus in the final.
Messi, who recently signed a new contract to stay at Barcelona until 2021, finished runner up for the second consecutive year despite currently outscoring Ronaldo by three goals in the calendar year (52-49).
The world’s most expensive player, Neymar, had been tipped to take the award by compatriot Philippe Coutinho, but came third for the second time in three years.
“I feel happy, it’s a great moment in my career,” said Ronaldo, who was unveiled on the Eiffel Tower. “This is something I look forward to every year. Last year we had an amazing season in the Champions League and La Liga.
“I have to thank my team-mates, Real Madrid and the rest of the people who helped me to be in great shape throughout the season.”
N’Golo Kante (eighth) finished highest of the seven Premier League players named in the final 30-player shortlist, with Harry Kane coming 10th.
Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was placed 14th in the final list, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (19th) and Manchester United’s David De Gea (20th) were just a place apart.
Liverpool pair Sadio Mane (23rd) and Philippe Coutinho (joint-29th) were also in the top 30.
First given to Sir Stanley Matthews in 1956, the coveted Ballon d’Or prize is presented by weekly football magazine France Football, with Ronaldo taking the prize for the first time as a Manchester United player in 2008.
Since then only Ronaldo or Messi has won the annual award.
Ronaldo, whose Real Madrid side also pipped Barcelona to the La Liga title last season, was already named FIFA Best Men’s Player for a second consecutive year at a separate awards ceremony in October.
The forward has recently come under criticism for scoring just two goals in 10 games in the Spanish top flight this season, with Real Madrid eight points behind Barcelona.
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane called for critics to show more “respect” to Ronaldo, who set yet another Champions League record by scoring in Real Madrid’s 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday to become the first player to find the net in all six group-stage matches.
Ronaldo is the all-time leading scorer in the Champions League with 115 goals.
(c) Sky News 2017: Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or to equal Lionel Messi record