Ronaldo wins Ballon d'Or as David Luiz sneaks into world XI
No surprise at the winner of the award, but disappointment for Neuer and incredulity over Luiz
Cristiano Ronaldo won his third Ballon d'Or on Monday at a ceremony in Zurich, beating off competition from Barcelona striker Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
The Real Madrid ace was voted the world's best player in 2014 in a poll of football writers, international coaches and captains. The 29-year-old Portuguese forward received 37.66 per cent of the votes, with Messi just edging out Neuer for second place, polling 15.76 per cent compared to 15.72 per cent for the German World Cup winner.
Neuer had been hoping to become the first goalkeeper to win the coveted award since Moscow Dynamo's Lev Yashin was crowned in 1963, but as has so often been the case the panel went with a goalscorer and not a goalkeeper.
Though many within the game would have liked to see Neuer rewarded for his outstanding exploits last year Ronaldo's achievements speak for themselves. Last year he scored 52 goals during 43 games, among them a competition-record 17 in the Champions League, a competition Real Madrid won for the first time in 12 years.
It was the second year in succession that Ronaldo has scooped the Ballon d'Or and, together with the Fifa World Player of the Year title he won in 2008 while with Manchester United, it means he is one shy of Messi's four awards.
Receiving his award from another goalscorer par excellence, Thierry Henry, Ronaldo told the audience: "I would like to thank all of those who voted for me. It has been an incredible year. I would like to continue the work that I have done so far. I want to try to improve, to become better as each day goes by. I never thought that I would bring this trophy back home on three occasions. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time."
Though Germany missed out in the main category, there was still plenty for them to celebrate at the star-studded evening with Wolfsburg and Germany midfielder Nadine Kessler winning the women's player of the year award and Joachim Low taking the coach of the year award for guiding Germany to their first World Cup triumph since 1990.
The one note of controversy to emerge from the award ceremony was in Fifa's FIFPro World XI for 2014. Naturally, Ronaldo, Messi and Neuer all made the starting line-up but there was widespread incredulity that David Luiz was named in the team. As the Daily Telegraph notes, the former Chelsea defender was “widely ridiculed for his hapless performance in the World Cup semi-final against Germany”, a game Brazil lost 7-1. Now with Paris Saint-Germain, Luiz hasn't been a roaring success in France and last season's French champions are currently fourth in Ligue 1.
FIFPro XI:Manuel Neuer, Phillipp Lahm, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Andres Iniesta, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben.