Ronaldo wins 5th Ballon d’Or to equal Messi’s record

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo thursday defeated Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or award for the fifth time – and the second year in a row.

The victory took the 32-year-old Portugal international level with 30-year-old Argentine Messi, who won the most recent of his five awards in 2015.

Messi’s ex-Barcelona team-mate Neymar, now at Paris St-Germain, was third.

Last season, Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win the Champions League and their first La Liga title since 2012.

Speaking shortly after he was presented his award at the ceremony which took place in Paris yesterday, Ronaldo thanked his Real Madrid team mates for making it happen.

“This is something I look forward to every year,” he said, “thanks to my Real Madrid team-mates. And I want to thank the rest of the people who helped me reach this level.”

Ronaldo moved level with Messi at the top of the all-time Champions League group stage goalscorers leaderboard on Wednesday after helping Madrid to beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2.

In 2010, the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year were fused for the FIFA Ballon d’Or to select the world’s best player of the year, based on votes from media, team coaches and captains.

But the French publication France Football and FIFA parted ways last year as their six year contract ended without it been renewed.

The Ballon d’Or was first introduced in 1956, when the European Cup (now known as the Champions League) came into existence, to reward players based on their performances in the previous 12 months on votes exclusively from journalist in Europe.

The FIFA World Player of the Year, on the other hand, was introduced in 1991 and awarded until 2009 with the winner decided by votes from national team coaches and captains from all of the association members.

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