Football

Cristiano Ronaldo fixated on a fifth crown

Ronaldo targeting another Ballon d'Or to draw level with rival Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to stay on top of the world after winning the Ballon d'Or for a fourth time on Monday night.

The 31-year-old Portugal and Real Madrid forward topped the poll of 173 journalists worldwide ahead of Argentina's Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann to cap what has been a remarkable 2016.

Ronaldo played a crucial role as Real beat city rivals Atletico in May to become European champions for a record-extending 11th time.

Then, two months later, Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016 in France to claim a major trophy for the first time - despite losing their talisman to injury early on in the final.

Ronaldo, who has so far scored 48 goals in 52 games for club and country during the calendar year, is in Japan as Real prepare for the Fifa Club World Cup.

The 2016 accolade moves Ronaldo clear of three-time winners Marco van Basten, Michel Platini and the late Johan Cruyff, while he is now one behind Messi.

I never thought in my mind to win the Golden Ball four times... Cristiano Ronaldo

Commenting on his triumph, Ronaldo said: "It is a great honour to receive my fourth Golden Ball. The emotion is like the first one, it is the dream come true again.

"I never thought in my mind to win the Golden Ball four times, so I am so pleased and so happy.

"I have the opportunity to thank all of my teammates, the national team, Real Madrid, all of the people and players who helped me to win this individual award.

  • The number of goals Cristiano Ronald has scored for Real Madrid in 248 La Liga matches since joining them in 2009.

"As you can imagine, I feel so proud and happy to receive this amazing and beautiful ball."

Ronaldo, who collected his first Ballon d'Or during his time at Manchester United in 2008, added: "It is important for me, I will try my best, like I do every year. It is a new challenge.

"I love to play football, so I will try my best to win for Real Madrid first, because they are my team, for the national team to win again if it is possible, we know that it is very, very difficult, and to win it (Ballon d'Or) again next year.

"I will try my best, work hard as always and I will enjoy this moment because it is not easy to win this."

France Football announced Ronaldo as the winner at around 7pm (local time), but did not reveal the top five in their countdown until later on Monday evening.

Runner-up Messi, the 29-year-old Argentina playmaker, helped guide Barcelona to another domestic league and cup double in 2015-16, scoring 41 goals in all competitions.

Griezmann, meanwhile, finished as top scorer at Euro 2016, where Les Bleus were defeated by Portugal in the final, and he also led Atletico to the Champions League final.

Brazil forward Neymar was named fifth in the poll behind his Barcelona teammate and Uruguay international Luis Suarez.

Ronaldo's prestigious prize comes at a time when he has generated negative headlines in the past week over accusations of tax evasion.

Denying any wrongdoing, he responded by publishing his financial records last week, showing he earned 227 million euros (S$343m) last year.

The Portuguese admitted that the uproar caused by the accusations published by Football Leaks has taken the shine off his latest Ballon d'Or title.

"Of course it ruined my pleasure, it would be lying to say no," he explained in an interview with France Football.

"I am not a hypocrite; it didn't do anything good to me.

"The whole process is hard not only for me, but also for the people who are with me - my family, my son, all those who work with me.

"My son goes to school and begins to understand things. Try to do things well, to be transparent - I don't have any reason to lie." - WIRE SERVICES

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