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Cristiano Ronaldo wins fourth Ballon d'Or

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/12/2016 Tales Azzoni

After giving a European Championship title to Portugal and another Champions League trophy to Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo ends 2016 with something for himself - his fourth Ballon d'Or.

Ronaldo on Monday won the world player of the year award, which this year is being handed out by France Football magazine separately from FIFA.

Ronaldo also won the Ballon d'Or prize in 2013 and 2014, and the FIFA award in 2008 while still playing for Manchester United.

The Portugal forward is also in contention for FIFA's prize this year, along with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, who finished second and third to Ronaldo on Monday, respectively.

"This was likely the best year of my career, individually and collectively," Ronaldo said in a pre-recorded video.

"It was unforgettable."

Only Ronaldo and Messi have been voted the best in the world since 2007, when Kaka won the prize.

Messi won a record fifth award last year.

"I have to thank all my teammates, the national team, Real Madrid, all the people, all the players who helped me win this individual award," Ronaldo said.

Messi was runner-up for the fifth time in his career, while Griezmann finished third after a remarkable year with France and Atletico Madrid.

Luis Suarez was fourth and Barcelona teammate Neymar fifth in the results announced by the Paris-based magazine.

The 31-year-old Ronaldo was picked from a list of 30 players by a group of international journalists selected by France Football, which for the previous six years awarded the coveted prize in partnership with FIFA.

Soccer's governing body, which relies on the votes of coaches, team captains, journalists and - for the first time - an online poll of fans, will be handing out its own award in January.

Ronaldo is receiving the Ballon d'Or award a month after his contract with Madrid was extended until 2021, keeping him in Spain until he is 36.

It has been an up-and-down season for him so far, but he couldn't have finished the previous one more strongly.

Ronaldo converted a penalty kick in a shootout against Atletico Madrid in the final of the Champions League, helping the Spanish powerhouse win the tournament for the second time in three seasons.

Ronaldo also won the Champions League title with Manchester United in 2008.

Ronaldo scored a record 11 goals in the group stage of the European competition last season and finished with a total of 16, one short of the record he set in 2014.

It was with Portugal that Ronaldo achieved one of his greatest feats, helping the nation win its maiden European title.

Ronaldo scored one of the goals for Portugal in the 2-0 win over Wales in the semi-finals at Euro 2016, then watched from the bench as his teammates defeated France 1-0 in extra time.

Ronaldo played only 25 minutes of the final at Stade de France in July before being substituted because of a left-knee injury.

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