From 30-1, the full Ballon d'Or list as Ronaldo heads up top three with Messi and Neymar

Alex Rea 8/12/2017

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo won a record-equalling fifth Ballon d'Or award for the year's best player on Thursday.

The Real Madrid forward's second successive win drew him level alongside Barcelona rival Lionel Messi on five Ballon d'Ors, after beating the Argentinian and Brazilian Neymar.

The 32-year-old was the top-scorer in last season's Champions League as Real successfully defended the trophy with victory over Juventus in June, and also led the Spanish giants to their first La Liga title in five years.

"Of course I feel happy. This is something I look forward to every year," Ronaldo said at the ceremony at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

"The trophies won last year helped to win this award. Thanks to the Real Madrid team-mates. And I want to thank the rest of the people who helped me reach this level."

Ronaldo, who also won the FIFA Men's Player of the Year award in October, added the 2017 Ballon d'Or to his previous wins in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

The prestigious France Football magazine award is decided upon by a journalists' ballot, with each naming a top five from a list of 30.

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Ronaldo targets SEVEN Ballon d'Ors as he levels Messi with fifth award

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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 €94million, 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.”

Provided by AFP Sport

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Tipped for greatness by Kaka, Dubai's own wonderkid Yahya Ali is a future football star

Alex Rea 7/12/2017
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Inspired by Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, tipped for success by Brazil legend Kaka and drawing interest from European giants like Paris Saint-Germain, Dubai-based teenager Yahya Ali is quite the prodigy.

Indeed, the 19-year-old attacker has a high ceiling and his lofty ambitions stretch beyond that but after dominating a recent adidas tournament in Moscow, Ali is a future football star.

The former Al Ahli youth product tore up the adidas Tango League final last month - a competition which brings together some of the world's most skillful 16-25 year olds - after he was crowned Dubai's MVP following a 3v3 regional qualifying tournament.

Blessed with heavy swagger on the pitch, Ali marries his talent to a level head off it, and you only need to peruse his social media channels for a window of his exponential ability.
Having been given the perfect platform by adidas, the talented teenager is unapologetically ambitious and he has no problem articulating that fact. After all, even Kaka recognised his flair.



"To be honest, playing in the Tango League was the best thing that's happened in my life up until this point," Ali tells Sport360.

"I met so many players and to speak with Kaka when I'm a Milan and Brazil fan was so special.

"I spoke to him and he gave me some really good advice to the effect of telling me to work really hard on my game.

"He told me I had the skills and that I played like a Brazilian after watching me in 11v11 at the Luzhniki Stadium which was just amazing to hear.

"I know that everything is dependent on me now if I want to make it as a pro in Europe but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Yahya Ali speaking to football freestyler Sean Garnier Yahya Ali speaking to football freestyler Sean Garnier

As a Brazil fan, Ali appreciates footballers who hurt opponents with skill. Hallmarked by poise and panache, he has naturally drawn comparisons with Samba stars Neymar and Robinho and there is a possibility he'll join the former in the future.

PSG and La Liga side Malaga are just two of the big names expressing an interest in signing Ali and having previously spent a month on trial with Man United, he is happy to embrace the challenge should it arise in the New Year.

"The most important thing for me is to get minutes and show my ability, especially at my age now," he adds."I've grown up playing football in Dubai so I didn't know any different but then when I went to Manchester United, I saw the level you need to perform at.

"Not just the level in terms of footballing ability, but their mentality.

"I was training with Marcus Rashford with the U15s but after two days he got sent to the U20s.

Yahya trained alongside Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford Yahya trained alongside Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford

"From the moment I saw him in the first-team I said to myself that it is possible.

"If you work hard you can make it because to be honest, he worked very, very hard and you could see that early on.

"It's so different in Europe from that perspective because I think in the Gulf region, no young player is dreaming big.

"They're not thinking about becoming a big name in football, they just want to secure their future by playing for a club with a stable contract which will pay them good money.

"For me, I don't want the money. I'm looking to be a big name, to make the UAE and Dubai football proud. The financial reward may come as a result of me reaching my aim but it's not the sole focus."


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