On Thursday night, Real Madrid goal-machine Cristiano Ronaldo created history when he claimed his fifth Ballon d’Or trophy for his incredible achievements in 2017 calendar year. Only other footballer to have garnered five Ballon d’Or is Ronaldo’s life-long rival Lionel Messi, who set the benchmark in 2015. Apart from the fierce rivalry that both the footballing superstars have enjoyed on the pitch in past decade, their Ballon d’Or-winning tale is nothing short of a movie script.
A teenaged Cristiano Ronaldo announced himself to the world when he single-handedly tormented the defence of Manchester United in 2002-03 forcing then manager Sir Alex Ferguson to launch a charm offensive for the Portuguese and ultimately securing his services. It was in 2007-08 that Ronaldo gave a run for the money to all the footballers in the world with his incredible skill and goal-scoring exploits. He scored 42 goals in 49 games for Old Trafford outfit winning Champions League and Premier League. For his hard work throughout the year, he was rewarded with his first Ballon d’Or in 2008.
But another man who was turning heads with his sensational displays on the pitch was Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Ronaldo was playing his best football post his Ballon d’Or win but Lionel Messi was a man on different mission. When the Argentine rose to prominence, it was the rise and rise only as he belittled many legends of football by the age of 26. Messi registered back-to-back Ballon d’Or wins for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012.
It was then that Ronaldo, who was trailing Messi 4-1 in Ballon d’Or wins, showed his sheer will and did not look back. Former Manchester United man tried to even the score by pipping Messi in 2013 and 2014 at the most-coveted individual honour before Lionel Messi made it 5-3 in 2015. Cristiano Ronaldo shifted gears and led Real Madrid to Champions League and Portugal to Euro Cup victories in 2016. After claiming his fourth Ballon d’Or in 2016, the Portuguese equalled the record of Lionel Messi by clinching the individual award in 2017 again.
Another dream come true. Unbelievable feeling. Thanks to my family, friends, teammates, coaches and everyone that stood by my side throughout the years.👌🏽🔝 pic.twitter.com/A9jyYswePD
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) December 7, 2017
The score of winning Ballon d’Or trophies between the two greatest rivals in football history now lies at 5-5. Who will put one over whom next year remains to be seen but sure it will be one fearsome contest to watch between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Watch Messi and Ronaldo in action: