By Brian Homewood
Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the second year running and the third overall on Monday after a prolific, trophy-filled year with Real Madrid.
He was voted ahead of Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, his bitter rival, and Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in the annual poll run jointly by football’s governing body and France Football magazine.
Joachim Low was voted Coach of the Year after leading Germany to the World Cup title in Brazil. He finished ahead of Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in the poll.
Ronaldo netted 51 goals in 47 appearances last season as Real secured a record-extending10th Champions League title and won the King’s Cup.
His tally included 17 goals in the Champions League, a record for a single edition of a Europe’s elite club competition
Since then, he has added the Club World Cup title to his collection, has scored a stunning 26 goals in 17 La Liga matches and looks set to looks set to smash the biggest total for a season in Spain’s top flight of 50 scored by Messi in 2011-12.
All that was enough to overlook a disappointing World Cup where Portugal went out in the first round and Ronaldo mustered only one goal.
However, he still became Portugal’s all-time leading scorer and his goal haul for his country stands at 52 in 117 appearances.
Messi, by contrast, inspired Argentina as they reached the World Cup final, where they lost to Neuer’s Germany.
Ronaldo first won the award in 2008, when it was run solely by FIFA, and he finished ahead of Messi.
Messi won the award four times in a row from 2009 to 2012, with Ronaldo finishing as runner-up on three occasions, before the Portuguese reversed the trend last year.