Cristiano Ronaldo received FIFA’s best player award for the fourth time on Monday, after Portugal and Real Madrid won both major European titles in 2016.
He beat runner-up and great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards.
“2016 was the best year of my career,” Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming “Wow, wow, wow.”
Ronaldo got 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot. Messi received 26.42 percent, and third-place Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online.
Ronaldo’s 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine.
Ronaldo’s fourth FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory, who did not attend the ceremony.
“With the aim of prioritising preparations for Wednesday’s game against Athletic Club [Bilbao,] FC Barcelona have decided that the players recognised in the awards will not be travelling to Switzerland for the ceremony,” Messi’s club FC Barcelona in a statement.
Messi guided Barcelona to a Spanish league and cup double, and was named to international union FIFPro’s World XI, though he captained Argentina to lose the Copa America final.
Griezmann’s France and Atletico Madrid lost both finals to Ronaldo’s teams.
Ronaldo’s coaches for club and country were beaten by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the men’s coaching prize for a stunning English Premier League title.
“What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,” said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation.
Ranieri collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters.
Lloyd repeats as best women’s player
Like Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second year in a row.
Lloyd won despite Germany midfielder Melanie Behringer playing on the Olympic gold medal-winning team. Five-time winner Marta was runner-up and Behringer was third.
“I honestly was not expecting this,” Lloyd said. “I know Melanie did fantastic in the 2016 Olympics.”