Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo beat rival Lionel Messi to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award for a fourth time.
The 31-year-old is now one behind Barcelona’s Messi, who took the honour for a fifth time last year. Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann finished third in the vote.
Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win last season’s Champions League and scored three goals as Portugal won Euro 2016.
He has now won the Ballon d’Or in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016, with Messi the only other recipient of the award since winning it for the first time in 2009.
“I never thought in my mind that I would win the Golden Ball four times. I am pleased. I feel so proud and happy,” said Ronaldo.
“I have the opportunity to thank all of my team-mates, the national team, Real Madrid, all of the people and players who helped me to win this individual award.”
The former Manchester United forward has scored 19 goals in 20 games for club and country this term, to add to the 54 he got last season.
Ronaldo’s important stats: 42 games, 38 goals, 14 assists, Third best minutes-per-goal rate – 83.68 – of anyone scoring a minimum of 10 goals across Europe’s top five leagues during 2016, behind Luis Suarez (82.57) and Falcao (59.6) Directly involved in 39 La Liga goals in 30 games – 31 scored and nine assists. The Ballon d’Or is voted for by 173 journalists from around the world.
|Ballon d’Or winners|
|2016: Cristiano Ronaldo||2009: Lionel Messi|
|2015: Lionel Messi||2008: Cristiano Ronaldo|
|2014: Cristiano Ronaldo||2007: Kaka|
|2013: Cristiano Ronaldo||2006: Fabio Cannavaro|
|2012: Lionel Messi||2005: Ronaldinho|
|2011: Lionel Messi||2004: Andriy Shevchenko|
|2010: Lionel Messi||2003: Pavel Nedved|
MEANWHILE: Riyad Mahrez was crowned the BBC African Footballer of the Year 2016. Fans from across the world voted for the Algeria and Leicester midfielder ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Andre Ayew, Sadio Mane and Yaya Toure. Winger Mahrez, 25, told BBC Sport: “It means a lot, it’s something big for African players so I am very happy, I am very proud.
“It’s always good to receive awards and for African players it’s a huge honour. To all the fans, thank you very much.”
He added: “Also I want to thank the Algeria fans and dedicate this to them as well and for my family.
“I just have to carry on and keep going with my football and see what I can do.”