Cristiano Ronaldo “proud and happy” to win Ballon d’Or for fourth time

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Cristiano Ronaldo has said that winning the Ballon d’Or for a fourth time feels like ‘a dream come true’, as he closes in on Lionel Messi’s overall record.

The Real Madrid and Portugal forward was rewarded for his form over the past 12 months, in which he lifted the Champions League and Euro 2016 titles for club and country, by being crowned the winner ahead of five-time champ Messi.

Ronaldo is now the most successful European player in the award’s illustrious history, overtaking the likes of Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten, but he is already eyeing up a record-equalling fifth crown this time next year.

“The emotion is the same as the first one again, the dream coming true again,” he told Real Madrid’s official website. “I never thought I’d win a fourth golden ball so I’m so pleased and so happy. I need to thank all my teammates, the national team, Real Madrid, all the people that helped me win this individual trophy.

“As you can imagine I feel so proud and happy to receive this amazing award. I will try my best like every year. Every year is a new challenge and I love to play football so I will try my best for Real Madrid first, and the national team again if it’s possible, because we know it is very difficult to win tournaments. It is not easy to win this [Ballon d’Or] so I will enjoy this win at this moment.”

Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Antoine Griezmann completed the top five, while Gareth Bale was sixth and Englishman Jamie Vardy in eighth.