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Fifth Ballon d’Or fitting record for great Ronaldo

Paris (AFP) – For much of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career he has been in direct competition with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, both for club and individual honours, so it’s fitting that the Real Madrid superstar has the same number of Ballon d’Or awards.

Ronaldo beat Messi and seven of his Champions League-winning Real teammates on Thursday to claim the award for the second straight year and fifth time overall, drawing level with Messi and reaffirming his place as equal partner in the greatest player rivalry the game has ever seen.

However Ronaldo, who will travel to Russia in 2018 in search of World Cup triumph after winning the European Championships in 2016, is not content with his record-equalling haul.

“I want seven. Five is good but seven is my lucky number so seven would be great,” he said to French sports newspaper L’Equipe.

“I want seven children (he has four) and seven Ballons d’Or.”

Ronaldo winning the award is as historic as it is expected.

Ronaldo was 10-1 on with British bookmakers before the announcement, who stopped taking bets on the Portuguese once it became clear he was going to rewarded for his role in Real’s phenomenal 2016-17 season, in which they pipped Barcelona to the La Liga title and became the first ever European champions to defend their crown in the Champions League era.

Ronaldo scored 12 goals in the Champions League last season, including knockout stage hat-tricks against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid and two in the 4-1 win over Juventus in the Cardiff final, and 25 in La Liga. 

The 32-year-old has got off to a slow start in La Liga this season but has scored a barely believable nine goals in the Champions League group stage, another amazing achievement in a career full of triumphs.

– Destined for greatness –

Ronaldo was special from an early age. In the year of his 16th birthday, he played for Sporting Lisbon’s under-16, under-17, under-18, reserve and first teams, and two years later he so impressed Alex Ferguson in a 2003 pre-season friendly that the then-Manchester United boss snapped him up.

Six years, three Premier League titles and a Champions League later and he was on his way to Real Madrid, having joined George Best and Eric Cantona among the greatest players to wear United’s prized number 7 shirt.

Bought for a then-world record 94 million euros, Ronaldo has more than paid back his fee, and while Barcelona have continued to dominate La Liga — last season’s league title was just his second in Madrid — he has become the king of European competition as Real racked up three Champions Leagues in the last four seasons.

In that time Ronaldo became the first player to score 100 Champion League goals, and topped the competition’s scoring charts five times. The 17 goals he scored as Real beat local rivals Atletico to the 2014 title remains a single-season record.

After a career filled with club success, Ronaldo finally got an international monkey off his back in 2016, winning the European Championship with Portugal after a lifetime of near misses and flattering to deceive on the world stage.

In winning the competition, beating the heavily-favoured hosts France in the final, he broke yet another record — his three goals made him the first player to ever score in four European Championships. 

The personal and team success has convinced one man that he belongs among the best to ever play the game.

“When I finish my career, I will look at the statistics to see if I’m among the best,” Ronaldo added. “Surely I will be.”

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