REAL Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or prize for the fourth time last night after beating Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo, who is now only one behind Messi’s record total of five awards, ran out victorious for the first time since 2014.

Messi finished second in the vote whilst Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann came third after lifting France to the final of the European Championships last summer.

In a stand-out year for the Real Madrid forward Ronaldo helped Portugal win their first ever European Championships, scoring three times during the competition, and led Madrid to their eleventh Champions League success against rivals Atletico, scoring the winning penalty in the shoot-out.

In his 42 appearances for Los Blancos this year, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 38 goals and provided 14 assists, averaging a goal every 84 minutes – the third best of anyone in Europe’s top five leagues.

Leicester City’s Premier League duo of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy both finished inside the top ten, finishing seventh and eight respectively, beating off the likes of Sergio Aguero and Manuel Neuer.

On a night where Mahrez was also crowned BBC African Player of the Year, he was further rewarded for spear-heading the Foxes’ Premier League title last season.

The Ballon d’Or was voted for by 173 journalists from across the globe.

It has been awarded by France Football every year since 1956, but for the past six years it became the FIFA Ballon d’Or in association with world football’s governing body.

However, FIFA’s association with the award was ended in September after the recent corruption scandals.

FIFA will hand out their own prize for the world’s best men’s player, along with the best women’s player and team of the year, at the Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in Zurich in early January.

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