Cristiano Ronaldo retains Ballon d’Or Title

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Cristiano Ronaldo has been awarded the Ballon d’Or for a third time at a ceremony in Zurich.

The Real Madrid superstar topped a poll of journalists, international coaches and captains for the second year running and is now within one win of equalling rival Lionel Messi’s four awards.

Ronaldo received 37.66 per cent of all votes, while Barcelona’s Messi just pipped Manuel Neuer to second place, with 15.76 per cent compared to 15.72 per cent for Germany’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper.

The Portuguese forward first won the Ballon d’Or in 2008, two years before it was merged with FIFA’s World Player of the Year award to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

His latest success comes on the back of 12 months during which he scored 56 goals in 51 club games, among them a competition-record 17 in Real’s Champions League-winning campaign.

Speaking after receiving the trophy from Thierry Henry, Ronaldo said: “I would like to thank all of those who voted for me. 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. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time.”

All three contenders were voted by their peers into the 2014 FIFPro World XI, while Neuer’s national manager Joachim Low won the Coach of the Year award ahead of Real boss Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone of Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.

The award for women’s coaches went to Ralf Kellermann, boss of Champions League winners Wolfsburg, whose captain Nadine Kessler added FIFA’s Women’s World Player of the Year trophy to the UEFA equivalent she won last year.

But Republic of Ireland women’s striker Stephanie Roche missed out on the Puskas Trophy for the best goal of 2014.

Her ball juggle and volley for Peamount United was beaten to first place by James Rodriguez’s volleyed World Cup goal for Colombia against Uruguay, with Robin van Persie third in the public vote for his diving header in Holland’s 5-1 win over Spain at the finals.

FIFPro XI: Neuer, Lahm, Silva, Luiz, Ramos, Kroos, Iniesta, Di Maria, Messi, Ronaldo, Robben.