By Brian Homewood
ZURICH — Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the second year running and the third overall on Monday after a prolific, trophy-filled year with Real Madrid.
The Portuguese forward won 37.66 percent of the vote to finish well ahead of Lionel Messi, his bitter rival, who won 15.76 per cent.
“I would like to thank all of those who voted for me,” said the 29-year-old as he accepted the trophy.
“It has been an incredible year. I would like to continue the work that I have done so far. I want to try to improve, to become better as each day goes by.
“I never thought that I would bring this trophy back home on three occasions and I want to win it again. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time,” before bellowing “Sim” (yes) into the microphone.
Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was marginally behind in third, polling 15.72 percent in the annual poll run jointly by soccer’s governing body and France Football magazine. The votes are cast by the captains and coaches of each national team plus one journalist from each country.
Joachim Loew was voted Coach of the Year after leading Germany to the World Cup title in Brazil. He finished ahead of Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in the poll.
Ronaldo netted 51 goals in 47 appearances last season as Real secured a record-extending 10th Champions League title and won the King’s Cup.
His tally included 17 goals in the Champions League, a record for a single edition of a Europe’s elite club competition
Since then, he has added the Club World Cup title to his collection, has scored a stunning 26 goals in 17 La Liga matches and looks set to looks set to smash the biggest total for a season in Spain’s top flight of 50 scored by Messi in 2011-12.
All that was enough to overlook a disappointing World Cup where Portugal went out in the first round and Ronaldo mustered only one goal.
However, he still became Portugal’s all-time leading scorer and his goal haul for his country stands at 52 in 117 appearances.
Messi, by contrast, inspired Argentina as they reached the World Cup final, where they lost to Neuer’s Germany.
Ronaldo first won the award in 2008, when it was run solely by FIFA, and he finished ahead of Messi.
Messi won the award four times in a row from 2009 to 2012, with Ronaldo finishing as runner-up on three occasions, before the Portuguese reversed the trend last year.