(SI) Ben Lyttleton–Ronaldo captures Ballon d'Or, a prestigious, yet checkered prize

The last time Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon D’Or, back in December 2008, it was a rather sedate affair. For starters, the prize came to him; the golden trophy was dispatched to his house in Manchester, where he posed with it and gave a long interview to the competition organizers from France Football magazine.

Back then, he had scored 42 goals and helped Manchester United win the Premier League, the Champions League and the Club World Cup. He had studied the history of the Ballon D’Or, voted on by journalists from 52 European countries, and told France Football at the time: “I’ve now made a place in history and that’s not something everyone can do. But it does not mean I have reached the top. I want more. I’m going back to square one. I’m starting my career again now.”

Six years, five trophies and 283 goals later, at a glittering ceremony Monday in Zurich, broadcast live to 180 countries, a tearful, emotional Ronaldo reacquainted himself with the Ballon D’Or. The player was no longer the callow 23-year-old of 2008, but a global star; the award, too, had changed. This Ballon D’Or is not just a France Football production, but since 2010 has been called the FIFA Ballon D’Or, combining FIFA’s former World Player of the Year award with the Ballon D’Or. So as well as the journalists’ vote, FIFA also collects the votes of international coaches and captains.

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