Cristiano Ronaldo has joined LiveScore as Official Global Brand Ambassador. Over five days we’re charting the seasons in which he won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
International glory and Champions League success — 2016 was arguably the greatest year in Cristiano Ronaldo’s glittering career as he collected his fourth Ballon d’Or.
A European Championship trophy with Portugal was the highlight of another stellar year at the top, but Real Madrid’s No7 continued to amass individual accolades and trophies with Los Blancos at a staggering rate.
From success at San Siro to conquering the continent at Euro 2016 and another Ballon d’Or, here’s what made 2016 a year to eclipse all others for LiveScore’s new global ambassador.
Putting Portugal on a pedestal
Ronaldo was 31 in the summer of 2016 and already had an abundance of medals in his burgeoning collection. But there was an itch that remained unscratched.
Portugal had never won a major honour in their history and success at international level would elevate the experienced forward’s reputation on the Iberian peninsula to near God-like status.
Euro 2016 was the perfect chance to win a tournament while their greatest ever player was still at his peak and Ronaldo was determined to deliver.
It proved to be an eventful competition for their captain, who became the nation’s most-capped player in the group stage match against Austria (edging ahead of Luis Figo’s record of 127 appearances), while also becoming the first player to score in four European Championships when he found the net against Hungary.
But it was the team’s performance that really counted and Ronaldo’s semi-final goal and assist against Wales helped fire Portugal into the final against France.
While their talisman had to leave the field with an injury after 25 minutes, his iconic touchline cajoling of his teammates drove them onto a dramatic 1-0 victory over the hosts in extra-time.
A proud moment
Despite the personal disappointment of being unable to complete the game, Ronaldo was understandably joyous at the final whistle.
Reacting to the victory, he said: “No one believed in us. I had already won everything with clubs. I lacked something with the national team. Portugal have deserved this after many years of sacrifice.
“It was not the final I wanted, but I am very happy. It is a trophy for all the Portuguese, for all immigrants, all the people who believed in us, so I am very happy and very proud.”
Ronaldo’s international honours may have been the highlight of 2016, but he still achieved plenty at club level too.
A Champions League campaign that saw the Real Madrid icon score a staggering 16 goals culminated in a second final in three seasons, this time against city rivals Atletico Madrid in Milan.
It was yet another showpiece event where Ronaldo had the final say.
The match went to extra-time and penalties following a 1-1 draw in normal time, with the Portuguese star pencilled in to take Los Blancos’ final spot kick.
The pressure was intense, but Ronaldo coolly powered home his penalty to seal the third Champions League victory of his career and a second for Real Madrid.
Goals, goals, goals
The 2015-16 campaign was the sixth time that Ronaldo scored 50 or more goals in all competitions at club level — an astonishing feat and a remarkable reflection of his longevity at the very top.
It was a season that saw him net five times against Espanyol and score four goals on two other occasions, taking his Madrid total to 364 by the end 2015-16.
There were some stunners in there too. Not least a sensational effort against Roma in the first-leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash.
Ronaldo cut inside from the left before unleashing a vicious strike that appeared to move in mid-air, leaving goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis with no chance of keeping it out.
All things considered, it’s no surprise Ronaldo was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 2016 after such a successful season.
He won it by a record margin too, receiving 745 points compared with just 316 for his nearest rival Lionel Messi.
It was the fourth Ballon d’Or of his career, but of no less importance to the Portuguese icon than his first — as he revealed upon receiving the trophy.
He said: “A great honour to receive my fourth golden ball. The emotion is like the first one.
“It’s the dream come true again. I never thought in my mind to win the golden ball four times so I’m so pleased and happy.”
The win meant Ronaldo became the first European ever to reach that milestone — a fitting accolade to end a year to remember.
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