Ronaldo claims main award but Ballon d’Or ceremony throws up surprises

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Ballon d'or

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the Ballon d’Or for the third time in his career at a ceremony in Zurich. The Portugal international held off competition from Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to retain the title with 37.66% of all votes. Lionel Messi, who won the award each year 2009-2012 inclusively, narrowly beat Neuer to second place with 15.76% of the overall vote, with the World Cup winner attaining 15.72%. After receiving the award from Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, Ronaldo stated “I would like to thank all of those who voted for me, my president, my coach and Real Madrid. It has been an unforgettable year. To win this trophy at the end of it is something incredibly unique.”  The Portuguese scored 56 goals in 51 games for ‘Los Blancos’ throughout 2014, helping them to achieve Champions League glory.

All three candidates were included in the FIFA Team of the Year, which also included Germany’s World Cup winning captain Philipp Lahm and Ángel Di María, who caused Manchester United to break the British transfer record by paying £59.7m to acquire his services from Real Madrid. Toni Kroos was the other World Cup winner included, whilst Spain and Brazil each had two representatives, Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta for the former, and Paris Saint Germain centre backs David Luiz and Thiago Silva for the latter. The Netherlands had only one inclusion, that of Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben.

Nadine Kessler was awarded the equivalent trophy in the women’s game, beating Brazil’s Marta and Abby Wambach of USA. “My heart is beating madly at the moment. I don’t think I ever thought in my life I would achieve this moment” the 26-year old said. “Without my team-mates and my coach, this would never have been possible. I have a great degree of gratitude that I must give to my family. They have seen me through all the difficult times.”

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Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammate James Rodriguez picked up the Puskas Award for FIFA goal of the year for his effort against Uruguay in Brazil, beating the favourite, a goal by Stephanie Roche for Peamount against Wexford, who would’ve been the first female winner of this particular award. Joachim Löw was voted men’s coach of the year after Germany’s fourth triumph at the FIFA World Cup. Having beaten Diego Simeone of Atlético Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti of Real Madrid to the award, the German paid tribute to “all the German coaches who do so much good work with the young players. They are all coaches of the year”. Löw’s fellow countryman Ralf Kellermann was named women’s coach of the year after VFL Wolfsburg’s successful defence of the Champions League, as he paid tribute to the late Wolfsburg midfielder Junior Malanda who died following a car accident at the age of 20 a few days ago. The former goalkeeper beat Germany Under-20 boss Maren Meinert and Japan’s Norio Sasaki to claim the award.

Another excellent year for Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid, but it is certain that the other half of Madrid will be aggrieved at the lack of acknowledgement in both individual and team awards for what was a remarkable year for Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid, having won La Liga and come within seconds of claiming the Champions League.

Photographs: commons.wikimedia, wikipedia

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