Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has been awarded his third FIFA Ballon d’Or, beating Manuel Neuer and Lionel Messi to the prized trophy.
The Portugal International is only the sixth player in history to win the award on more than two occasions. Over the past 12 months, Ronaldo scored a stunning 62 goals at an average of one per game for club and country. He helped his team to win four trophies and also became the first player to score in two Champions League final victories.
Ronaldo is now just one behind great rival Lionel Messi who had won the Ballon d’Or for four successive years prior to 2013. Ronaldo polled more than 37% of the vote compared to a little over 15% for Neuer and Messi respectively.
Germany’s World Cup-winning coach Joachim Löw was named FIFA World Coach of the Year, beating Carlo Ancelotti of Real Madrid and Diego Simeone of Spanish Champions Atletico Madrid. Perhaps the most controversial award was the FIFA Puskás Award for goal of the year which went to Columbia’s James Rodríguez for his superb strike against Uruguay during the World Cup in Brazil.
There had been a growing belief that Ireland’s Stephanie Roche could scoop the award for her unbelievable solo effort for Peamount against Wexford in the Women’s National League. In the end, she collected 33% of the vote as opposed to 42% for Rodriguez. The publicity has certainly done nothing but good for the profile of the women’s game. Robin van Persie’s diving header for the Netherlands in the opening group match in the World Cup received only 11% of the vote in third place.
Nadine Kessler took the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year prize with VfL Wolfsburg’s Ralf Kellermann named top women’s coach. Kessler was named ahead of Marta of Brazil and Abby Wambach of the United States. Kellermann led his side to a successful defence of the Champions League title.
The team award included three players from Real Madrid and three from defeated Champions League semi-finalists Bayern Munich. Ronaldo was joined by Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos while the Bayern trio comprised of Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben. The Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil central defensive pairing of David Luiz and Thiago Silva were selected despite the national teams World Cup disaster. Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi both made the line-up for Barcelona along with Messi’s Argentinian team-mate Angel Di Maria of Manchester United.