After winning the Champions League and EURO 2016 this year, it was not a surprise to see Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo add his fourth Ballon d’Or to his collection, finishing ahead of Lionel Messi in the voting.
Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or in 2008 and also claimed the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2013 and 2014, finishing second to Messi in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015; the Argentinian was runner-up in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
“It was an unforgettable year, possibly the best of my career on both a collective and individual level,” he said upon being presented with the accolade, Marca reports.
“To achieve something with Portugal was one of the most important moments of my life, without forgetting the Champions League that I won with Real Madrid, in which I was the top goalscorer, plus I was crowned the best scorer in Europe.
“Real Madrid are used to winning the Champions League, they have 11, but Portugal had never won a major trophy.
“I must respect the Champions League, which is an impressive trophy, but I appreciate more the trophy I won with Portugal, which was a step higher.
“When I win a prize of this importance, I say ‘Cristiano, it was worth working so hard during year, doing things that you didn’t do before …’
“I can’t express what I feel, but I feel joy because I worked hard.
“This is for the people that have faith in me, my teammates, my family, the people who work for me, help me to improve and maintain my level year after year.
“You can count on the fingers of one hand the players who maintain their level year after year, there’s very few of them. I’m one of them, and it fills me with pride.
“It’s always a different emotion, but it doesn’t mean that the feeling isn’t the same. The first one was a joy, a dream come true.
“I was 23 or 24 years and it was a unique moment in my life. What I feel today is similar to 2008.
“It’s my job, my profession and I really sacrifice myself. When you win something, it’s important that I put the team first. If Real Madrid and Portugal didn’t win anything, I couldn’t win this award.
“Real Madrid are the club of my heart and winning it with them is very similar to when I won it with Manchester United.
“With 11 European cups, two of which I’ve won, it’s a perfect scenario.”
Ronaldo scored 16 times – one short of his own competition record – as Real Madrid won an 11th European Cup in May. He added three more in France as Portugal lifted the title, although he was forced off by injury early on in the final win against the hosts.