AFP / File / JAVIER SORIANO
Real Madrid’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo gives a thumbs up during the UEFA Champions League match football against Borussia Dortmund December 6, 2017
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo won a record-equalling fifth Golden Ball award for the year’s best player on Thursday. The rival of Barcelona’s rivals Lionel Messi on five Ballons d’Or, after the Argentinian took second in the vote, with Brazilian Neymar third.
The 32-year-old was the top-scorer in the last season of the Champions League as well as to win the trophy with victory over Juventus in June, La Liga title in five years. “Of course I feel happy, this is something I look forward to every year,” Ronaldo said at the ceremony at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. “The trophies won last year, thanks to my Real Madrid team-mates and I want to thank you for helping me reach this level.” Ronaldo, who also won the FIFA Men’s Player of the Year award, added the 2017 Golden Ball to his previous wins in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016. He scored 42 goals in all competitions for Real last season, and also netted 15 times in European World Qualifying Cup. Ronaldo will lead Portugal at next year’s World Cup in Russia as he looks to add football’s greatest title to the 2016 European Championship win, when the Portuguese beat hosts France in the final. Messi and Ronaldo have now shared the last 10 Ballons d’Or since the latter’s first win after leading Manchester United to the 2007-08 Champions League title. “I hope to continue this journey, I hope the battle continues with Messi, things happen for a reason,” he added. “I feel good this season and we’ll see what we win at the end of the year.” When Ronaldo said: “I’m happy at Real Madrid, I want to stay there … If possible.” Real Madrid president Florentino Perez would have been pleased to hear Ronaldo’s intention to stay, and he’s compared to Alfredo Di Stefano, the only other player to win multiple Golden Balloons while with Real. “For me, he’s the most complete player after Alfredo Di Stefano, he’s Alfredo’s heir,” said Perez. “He embodies all the values of Real – effort, respect, teamwork and solidarity.” – Neymar settles for third again – The prestigious France Football magazine award, which was first won by Englishman Stanley Matthews in 1956, is decided by a journalist, with each naming a list of 30. It was a replica first two of 2016, which was the first year after FIFA ended its association with the Golden Ball and restarted its own Player of the Year award. Ronaldo and Messi, 30, in the coming years for the second time, having finished fifth last year. The 25-year-old left Messi’s Barcelona during the Paris Saint-Germain, where he has already scored 15 goals this season. “Neymar has a lot of talent, a lot of potential, and I’m sure he’ll have some luck in the future,” Ronaldo said. Veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon finished fourth after helping Juventus to the Champions League final, while Real’s Croatian midfielder Luka Modric rounded out the top five. Center-back Sergio Ramos was the highest-ranked Spaniard and the third Real player in the top 10, one of rising star Kylian Mbappe in seventh. Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante was the highest Premier League representative, with Bayern Munich Robert Lewandowski striker and Harry Kane England completing the top 10.
AFP / File / JAVIER SORIANO