By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Portugal and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or award for the fourth time on Monday after claiming the European Championship and Champions League titles in 2016.
Ronaldo is now one short of the record tally of five awards won by Barcelona's Argentina forward Lionel Messi.
"For me it's a great honor to receive my fourth golden ball. The emotion is like for the first one, it's a dream come true again. I never thought in my mind to win four times. I'm so happy," said Ronaldo, who won the award in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
"I take the opportunity to thank all my team mates, from the national team and for Real Madrid. I feel so proud and happy."
The Ballon d'Or, which merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year award from 2010-15 to create the FIFA Ballon d'Or, returned to France Football magazine this year.
A total of 173 journalists voted but not national team coaches and captains who were also polled for the FIFA award.
Winning a fourth Ballon d'Or caps a remarkable year for Ronaldo, who scored 51 goals in 54 games for club and country, his lowest tally since 2008, claimed another Champions League winners' medal and lifted the European Championship trophy.
Ronaldo limped off midway through the first half of July's Euro 2016 final, which Portugal won 1-0 after extra time against hosts France, but he hobbled back onto the pitch to celebrate his country's first major soccer title.
Six weeks earlier, after a fairly anonymous performance against local rivals Atletico in the Champions League final, he scored the decisive penalty in the shootout to hand Real their 11th European Cup.
It was, therefore, hard to see past 31-year-old Ronaldo for the winner of the Ballon d'Or, even if the trophy is designed to reward individual performance rather than team results.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)