Real Madrid attacker Cristiano Ronaldo has won the 2014 Fifa Ballon d’Or ahead of Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, scooping up the prestigious individual award for the third time in his career. Ronaldo enjoyed a hugely successful 2014, in which he guided Madrid to Champions League glory by netting a record 17 goals in one campaign. Additionally, the prolific attacker played an integral part in the Santiago Bernabeu side’s Copa del Rey win by netting three goals in six appearances, even if he missed the final against Barcelona due to injury.
On an individual level, the 29-year-old won the Liga top scorer award by scoring 31 goals in 30 appearances, which also saw him crowned joint-winner of the European Golden Shoe together with Luis Suarez. Ronaldo becomes the seventh player in history to successfully defend his Ballon d’Or title after Johan Cruyff, Kevin Keegan, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Messi. The Portugal international was first voted the world’s best in 2008, when he pipped Messi and Fernando Torres to the coveted trophy. He then had to settle for second spot in 2009, 2011 and 2012 before winning the award a second time in 2013, this time ahead of Messi and Franck Ribery. The former Manchester United star has moved level with Cruyff, Platini and Van Basten on three wins, with only Messi ahead of him on four Ballon d’Or trophies.
Neuer missed out on the chance to become the first goalkeeper to win the award since Lev Yashin in 1963 after guiding Germany to World Cup glory and winning the Bundesliga title and DFB-Pokal with Bayern. Messi, meanwhile, made it to the podium for the seventh time in succession after he was crowned all-time top goalscorer of La Liga and the Champions League in 2014.