KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: Monday night at the London Palladium saw Cristiano Ronaldo and Lieke Martens carry off the top honours as world football federation FIFA brought its annual awards to town.
Real Madrid’s Potugal superstar won for the second year in succession (43.16pc) ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (19.25pc) and Brazil’s Neymar (6.97pc). He was also one of six Madrid players selected in the FIFPro Team of the Year while boss Zinedine Zidane was Coach of the Year.
Barcelona’s Martens inspired the Netherlands to victory at the UEFA Women’s European Championship in August; her Dutch manager Sarina Wiegman took the Women’s Coach of the Year prize. Martens (21.72pc) led American Carli Lloyd (16.28pc), who collected the award last year, and the US-based Venezuelan starlet Deyna Castellanos (11.69pc).
Ronaldo was always clear favourite for the world player prize after inspiring Madrid’s triumphs in the Champions and Spanish Leagues last season.
He has scored 44 goals for club and country so far in 2017 and scored twice in the Champions League Final defeat of Juventus in June as Madrid retained the trophy and became European champions for a record-extending 12th time.
Ronaldo said: “Thank you a lot, guys, for voting for me. I must give a mention to Leo and Neymar for being here. Real Madrid supporters, my teammates, coach, president all support all through the year so I have to say thank you to them.
“We are in England for the first time and I win consecutive awards so I’m really glad, it’s a great moment for me. FIFA give the opportunity to fans, I know I have fans all over the world (so) thanks for the support, I appreciate it… I’m so happy, thank you very much.”
Ronaldo was presented with his award by Diego Maradona and his Brazilian namesake.
Messi has scored 50 goals for Barcelona and Argentina while Neymar, who became the world’s most expensive player when he left Barcelona for PSG fpr €222m in the summer, has 25 goals to his name for club and country.
Zidane won the coach award after becoming the first trainer to win back-to-back Champions League titles as Madrid beat Juventus in the final in May. He also led Los Blancos to their first league title in five years. Juventus’ Massimiliano Allegri and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte were also shortlisted.
Gianluigi Buffon was voted Goalkeeper of the Year at 39 after helping Juve to a sixth consecutive Serie A title and managing 600 Champions League minutes without conceding a goal.
Two awards were voted for directly by football fans from all around the world via FIFA.com.
In the Puskas Goal of the Year section Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud won with 36.17pc of the 792,062 votess for his scorpion kick for Arsenal against Crystal Palace. Other contenders were Venezuela’s Deyna Castellanos and South African goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke.
Celtic supporters received 55.92pc of votes for the fans’ award and were commended for the 360-degree card displayed around Celtic Park during the final match of the Scottish league season, acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the club’s European Cup triumph in 1967.
The fair play prize went to Togolese player Francis Koné, who performed life-saving first aid on an opponent – Bohemians 1905’s goalkeeper Martin Berkovec – during a Czech League game in February.
Men’s Player of the Year: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Women’s Player of the Year: Lieke Martens (Holland, Barcelona)
Fair Play Award: Francis Kone
Goalkeeper of the Year: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Male coach of the year: Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)
Female Coach of the Year: Sarina Wiegman (Holland)
Fans of the Year: Celtic
Puskas Goal of the Year:Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
FIFPro Team of the Year: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus, Italy) – Dani Alves (Juventus/Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/Milan, Italy), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Spain), Marcelo (Real Madrid, Brazil) – Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona, Spain), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, Germany), Luka Modrić (Real Madrid, Croatia) – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Portugal), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina), Neymar (Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil).