Cristiano Ronaldo wins 5th Ballon d’Or award as best player

PARIS (AP) — Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or award as soccer’s best player of the year for a record-equaling fifth time, moving him level with Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo won the trophy awarded by France Football magazine at a ceremony held at the Eiffel Tower on Thursday. He finished ahead of contenders Messi and Neymar, who left Barcelona in the offseason to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world record transfer fee of 222 million Euros ($262 million).

Ronaldo was shown on television receiving the award while making the sign of five with his left hand as held the trophy in his right. Messi was runner-up behind him and Neymar was third.

“Of course, I feel happy, it’s a big moment in my career,” Ronaldo said. “It’s something I hope to win every year.”

The 32-year-old Portugal forward also took home the Ballon d’Or prize in 2013 and 2014, and in 2008 when playing for Manchester United.

Messi won it from 2009-12 and again in 2015.

Ronaldo claimed it back last year after helping Portugal win the European Championship and starring for Madrid as it won the Champions League.

Last season he won the Champions League once again and played a key role as Madrid won the Spanish league title for the first time since 2012.

“If he can score 10 times in training he will, that’s what impresses me,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “His ambition impresses me. I’m proud to be his coach.”

Ronaldo is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Champions League with 115 goals.

He set another competition record on Wednesday, scoring in Real Madrid’s 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday to become the first player to find the net in all six group-stage matches.

It took his tally to nine so far, but in La Liga it has been a very different story during this campaign.

In August, he was banned for five games after shoving referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea in the back following his red card during a 3-1 victory over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup. He missed the return leg of the Spanish Super Cup in Madrid plus the first four matches of the Spanish league season.

Since then, he has managed only a meager two in 10 games and Madrid is fourth — already eight points behind leader Barcelona after 14 matches.

Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was fourth on France Football’s list. The 39-year-old Italian helped Juventus reach the Champions League final and win the Italian title for the sixth straight season.

Croatia midfielder Luka Modric and Spain defender Sergio Ramos — both Ronaldo’s teammates — were fifth and sixth respectively.

Teenage star Kylian Mbappe finished seventh after helping Monaco win the French title and reach the Champions League semifinals. He joined Neymar at PSG this season in a deal worth 180 million Euros ($216 million) — the second-most expensive ever.

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Tottenham striker Harry Kane completed the top 10.

PSG striker Edinson Cavani was surprisingly 11th despite scoring a career-high 49 goals in all competitions last term.

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