For the second straight year, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or. The Real Madrid and Portuguese idol was simply golden. Ronaldo was the attacking centerpiece for both club and country in 2014, as he helped Real Madrid win three major titles; the Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. He also jumped out to an extremely hot start in the first half of the 2014-15 Liga BBVA campaign, with 25 goals and 8 assists. Overall in the 2014 calendar year, Ronaldo was responsible for 61 goals and 18 assists across all competitions.
A panel of every FIFA-affiliated national team captain, manager and a member of each nation’s media voted on the ballot for this year’s Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo won the poll in convincing fashion with 37.66% of the vote over Barcelona and Argentine talisman Lionel Messi (15.76%), and Bayern Munich and German sweeper keeper extraordinaire Manuel Neuer (15.72%). Ronaldo spoke on winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the fourth time, third time in the current FIFA format:
“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.”
The gala event on Monday held many other awards as well. German and VfL Wolfsburg starlet Nadine Kessler took home the Women’s Ballon d’Or, a couple days after Belgian rising star on the men’s first team Junior Malanda lost his life in a fatal car accident. Captain Kessler helped Wolfsburg win a double, with the Bundesliga and UEFA Women’s Champions League for a second consecutive season. The Women’s poll proved to be a lot tighter, with Kessler winning 17.52% of the vote. American captain and all-time leading scorer Abby Wambach finished third, behind Brazilian great Marta, with 13.33% and 14.16% respectively.
Joachim Low won Best Coach honors in Men’s football, after leading Germany to a fourth World Cup title. Under his command, Die Mannschaft worked as a complete unit, with possession and great passing the key to Germany’s success. The Germans may not have household names on the level of Messi or Ronaldo, but football is, after all, a team sport, and the Germans ascended to the top of the world after twenty four years with a young team of stars that will only get better.
The Puskás Award, named after Real Madrid and Hungarian icon Ferenc Puskás, is given to the best pure goal of the year. It would go to none other than Real Madrid’s Colombian sensation James Rodriguez, whose award-winning goal would come on the biggest stage. James’ volleyed strike against Uruguay in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil would give the winger the award.
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