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Ballon d'Or 2016: Cristiano Ronaldo favorite to beat Lionel Messi – as it happened

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Baku, December 13, AZERTAC

Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d'Or award for the fourth time, capping a season in which his Portugal side won Euro 2016 and his club, Real Madrid, took the Champions League, according to "The Guardian".

"A great honor to receive my fourth golden ball," Ronaldo said upon receiving the award at the Bernabéu. "The emotion is like the first one. It's the dream come true again. I never thought in my mind to win the golden ball four times so I'm so pleased and happy.

"I have the opportunity to thank all my team-mates, the national team, Real Madrid, all the people and players who helped me to win this individual award. So as you can imagine, I feel so proud and happy to receive this amazing and beautiful ball."

Ronaldo is now one short of his Barcelona rival Lionel Messi's record tally of five. Messi finished second this time. Atlético Madrid's Antoine Griezmann came third, with Leicester City's Jamie Vardy finishing eighth and his team-mate Riyad Mahrez seventh.

Real beat Atlético in May to become European champions for a record 11th time, with Ronaldo playing a crucial role. Two months later Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016 in France to lift a major trophy for the first time, although Ronaldo left the field injured after 25 minutes but remained on the sidelines offering encouragement. He has scored 48 goals in 52 games for club and country in 2016. The 31-year-old had previously won the Ballon d'Or in 2014, when it had been merged with the Fifa World Player of the Year accolade.

The award, which this year was handed out by France Football magazine separately from Fifa, moves him clear of the three times winners Marco van Basten, Michel Platini and the late Johan Cruyff. Ronaldo's Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale, who helped drive Wales to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, was voted in sixth place during the ceremony in Zurich.

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