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Cristiano Ronaldo wins 2014 Ballon d'Or

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The Real Madrid star beat out Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer.

Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

For the third time in his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has been named as world football's best player, capturing the 2014 Ballon d'Or. He beat out longtime rival Lionel Messi and dark horse favorite Manuel Neuer, goalkeeper for Bayern Munich and Germany, to capture the award.

Ronaldo was Madrid's best player again in 2014, guiding them to the UEFA Champions League title. That win was Madrid's long-awaited 'Decima', the 10th Champions League title in their history. They are the only club to win the European Cup 10 times.

In the 2013-14 season, Ronaldo was Europe's top scorer with 51 goals in all club competitions. He scored 23 of those goals in 2014, then scored 32 for Real Madrid in the first half of this season.

While Ronaldo was very clearly the best club player in the world in 2014, he captures this award a bit controversially because of his struggles in the World Cup. He scored just once in three games for Portugal, as they were eliminated from the competition in the group stage. Messi, meanwhile, made it to the final and captured the Golden Ball. Manuel Neuer was almost universally regarded as the best player on World Cup winners Germany, and many felt he deserved the Golden Ball over Messi.