Less than a month ago, Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the Balon d’Or for the fourth time in his career – leaving him only one short of Lionel Messi’s record tally. On Monday night, CR7 added to his lustrous trophy cabinet as he picked up the first edition of FIFA’s The Best award during a ceremony held in Zurich. This was the first time in six years that both awards were handed out separately after FIFA and L’Equipe decided to abolish their joint award – but it was of little consequence to the Portuguese legend as he triumphed either way.
2016 was arguably Ronaldo’s most successful year on a collective level as Portugal were crowned European Champions in the summer – a title that had eluded him in the past – and Real Madrid were victorious in the UEFA Champions League, European Super Cup, and Club World Cup. In the process, Ronaldo had racked up 55 goals in 57 games for club and country; while also providing 17 assists to his teammates. 16 of these goals were scored on the road the Champions League final, as he finished top scorer in the competition for the third consecutive season.
Out of the three finalists, Ronaldo gathered the most votes by a significant margin with his 34.54% overshadowing Messi’s 26.42% – and Antoine Griezmann following up in third with 7.53%. Elsewhere, other Real Madrid players were also graced with personal accolades as four players, excluding Ronaldo, were part of the FIFPro World XI for 2016. Sergio Ramos and Marcelo were included as center-back and left-back respectively, while Luka Modric and Toni Kroos formed the midfield pivot.
It was a just reward for players who have contributed significantly to the club’s cause in the calendar year, and have proven themselves worthy when their poster-boy has failed to deliver. Sergio Ramos, in particular, has made last-gasp goals a defining part of his repertoire – and deserves tremendous praise for his sheer grit and determination. There is much more to Zidane’s Real Madrid than CR7, after all – and that is perhaps what has made them stronger; allowing Ronaldo to evolve into a more unselfish but equally effective version of himself, one that will almost certainly be up on the podium for years to come.