Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and boss Zinedine Zidane with their awards. PIX: GETTY IMAGES via BBC

LONDON – Cristiano Ronaldo won his second straight FIFA Best Men’s Player award on Monday after helping Real Madrid make European history last season.

Ronaldo beat former Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar for the honour at a football gala in London.

The Portuguese helped Madrid become the first team to successfully defend their Champions League title, along with capturing their first Spanish league title since 2012.

“I want to thank Real Madrid for their support all year,” he said. “We are in England for the first time and I win it for the second consecutive time.

“This is a great moment for me. I’m so happy.”

It is the fifth time Ronaldo has been honoured by football’s world governing body, matching the tally of long-time rival Messi.

Zinedine Zidane was rewarded for orchestrating the Madrid double by winning the Best Men’s Coach award over Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte.

“This is a fantastic prize,” he said. “I’d like to thank all the players who made this possible.”

The FIFA Best Football Awards were decided in a vote of international captains and coaches, media voting and an online ballot of fans.

Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus bested Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer and Read Madrid’s Keylor Navas for the inaugural Best Goalkeeper award.

The 39-year-old helped Juve to a third straight league/cup double while also reaching the final of the Champions League.

“It’s a great honour to receive this award at my age,” he said. “I’m proud of it.”

As in the men’s voting, the two women’s awards went to the same team.

Lieke Martens was named best player and Sarina Wiegman the best coach after the Netherlands won the 2017 Women’s European Championship.

Martens, who was named player of the tournament, beat out last year’s winner Carli Lloyd of the US and Venezuela teenager Deyna Castellanos.

“I want to thank all my team-mates, without you I couldn’t achieve this,” she said. “Of course my family is a very big part of it. To mom and dad, this one is for you.”

Wiegman was chosen ahead of Denmark’s Niels Nielsen, whom she beat in the Euro final, and Gerard Precheur of French club Lyon.

Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Buffon were also part of the FIFPro World Eleven team chosen by more than 24,000 professionals worldwide.

Joining them were Dani Alves (Barcelona/PSG), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/AC Milan), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) and Andres Iniesta (Barcelona).

Arsenal striker Oliver Giroud won the Puskas Award for best goal for his scorpion kick against Crystal Palace.

Celtic FC supporters won the best fans award for their 360-degree card display around Celtic Park honouring the club’s 1967 European championship team know as the “Lisbon Lions.”

Francis Kone won the FIFA Fair Play Award after saving the life of an opponent who swallowed his tongue during a game in the Czech Republic in February. -dpa


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