BERNE (Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the second year running and the third overall on Monday and said he wanted to become “one of the greatest players of all time.”
The Real Madrid forward polled more than double the number of votes as his bitter rival Lionel Messi who only just edged Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into third place.
Joachim Loew won the Coach of the Year of the award after leading Germany to the World Cup title in Brazil, finishing ahead of Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in the poll.
Colombia’s James Rodriguez won the Puskas award for the best goal, a spectacular volley on the turn for Colombia in their World Cup match against Uruguay. Nadine Kessler of VfL Wolfsburg and Germany won the women’s Player of the Year award.
Ronaldo was forgiven for a disappointing World Cup, with Portugal going out in the first round.
Instead, the voters – the coaches and captains of the 209 national teams plus one journalist for each country – were swayed by his prolific goal-scoring and trophy-laden year with Real Madrid, where he has flourished under Ancelotti.
“I never thought that I would bring this trophy back home on three occasions and I want to win it again. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time,” Ronaldo told the audience after a ceremony which lasted nearly two hours.
Ronaldo, who has made a point of displaying his rippling muscles in his goal celebrations, then bellowed “Sim” (yes) into the microphone, somewhat startling the ceremony presenter.
The award has turned almost turned into a personal duel between Ronaldo – who topped the voting in 2008, 2013 and 2014 – and Messi.
Messi won four years in a row from 2009 to 2012, with Ronaldo finishing second on three occasions. Only Andres Iniesta, runner-up in 2010, has managed to break the duopoly.
This year’s race had turned into something of a numbers game between Ronaldo and Messi.
Ronaldo netted 51 goals in 47 appearances last season as Real secured a record-extending 10th 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 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. He also became Portugal’s leading scorer with 52 goals.
Messi, meanwhile, became the all-time leading scorer in La Liga and the Champions League with two hat-tricks in the space of four days.
Three goals against Sevilla took his La Liga total to 253, before a treble against APOEL Nicosia set a Champions League scoring record of 74 goals.
Messi was more prominent internationally, helping Argentina reach their first World Cup final since 1990 where they lost 1-0 to Germany. Neuer was a key figure for Germany and redefined the goalkeeper’s role by often coming out of his area to clear attacks, almost in a sweeper’s role.
“Sometimes, he likes to think he’s a midfield player,” said Loew.
Ronaldo won 37.66 percent of the vote, compared to 15.76 for Messi and 15.72 for Neuer.
Neither Ronaldo nor Messi, captains of their respective teams, voted for each other.
Messi chose compatriot Angel di Maria and Barcelona team mates Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano while Ronaldo plumped for Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, all team mates at Real Madrid.