Cristiano Ronaldo wins his third Ballon d’Or

Zurich (IANS/EFE): Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo was named as the winner of the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best footballer here Monday.

This was the Portugese superstar’s second consecutive triumph and his third overall.

“I never thought I could win this trophy on three different occasions,” Ronaldo said at the FIFA awards ceremony.

He edged out Argentina and Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, a four-time winner, for the title.

Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, with 61 goals in all competitions in 2014, was widely expected to prevail over Messi and the other finalist, Germany and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who helped his country to win the World Cup last year.

The 2013-2014 season brought Real Madrid their long-awaited 10th Champions League crown and Ronaldo contributed 16 goals to set a new scoring record in Europe’s elite club tournament.

The Ballon d’Or is awarded based on the votes of national team coaches and captains and a select group of football journalists. Ronaldo took a whopping 36.66 percent of the votes, followed by Messi with 15.76 percent and Neuer with 15.72 percent.

“I want to become one of the greatest players of all time, and this requires a lot. So I would like to thank you…this evening,” Ronaldo said after accepting the award.

Though Neuer lost out in the race for the Ballon d’Or, Germany did not go away empty-handed.

The Women’s Player of the Year honours went to Nadine Kessler, while Wolfsburg’s Ralf Kellermann was named the Women’s Coach of the Year and the German national team head coach Joachim Low took the award for Men’s Coach of the Year.

The FIFPro World XI, as chosen by more than 20,000 professional players was also announced at the event.

These players featured in the FIFPro World XI team:

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer (Germany).

Defenders: David Luiz (Brazil), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Sergio Ramos (Spain) and Philip Lahm (Germany).

Midfielders: Angel Di Maria (Argentina), Andres Iniesta (Spain) and Toni Kroos (Germany).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Arjen Robben (the Netherlands).