ZURICH — Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for 2014 on Monday, earning the title of world's best football player for a third time.
He beat Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and four-time winner Lionel Messi in a vote of national team captains and coaches from FIFA's 209 member countries, plus selected journalists.
"I want to become one of the greatest players of all time," Ronaldo said through a translator in his acceptance speech. "Of course, this requires a lot of effort and I hope to get there."
Messi finished second in the voting, with Neuer third.
Ronaldo retained football's highest individual honor after scoring 61 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal last year. His record tally of 17 in a Champions League season helped his club win an unprecedented 10th European Cup title — and overshadowed a relatively disappointing World Cup campaign.
Ronaldo was more composed for this widely expected victory than during his tearful speech one year ago when ending Messi's four-year reign. He first won the award for 2008 as a Manchester United player.
On hearing his name read out by French great Thierry Henry, Ronaldo closed his eyes, dipped his head and smiled before walking to the stage.
"It has been an unforgettable year," Ronaldo said after taking a deep breath.
After helping Real win the Club World Cup last month, the 29-year-old star also unveiled a statue of himself in his home island Madeira.
Germany won the other three major individual awards to compensate for Neuer's defeat.
Joachim Loew was voted coach of the year for guiding the national team to its first World Cup title since 1990, and first major trophy in 18 years.
"It's the icing on the cake," Loew said through a translator. "What would a coach be without a fantastic team? I am nothing without well-trained players."
Loew beat the two club coaches from Madrid: Italian Carlo Ancelotti of Real and Atletico's Diego Simeone from Argentina.
Germany midfielder Nadine Kessler beat two former winners — United States forward Abby Wambach and Marta of Brazil — to be named the best women's player in 2014.
A German man also won the coaching award for women's football: Ralf Kellermann was rewarded for leading a Wolfsburg team including Kessler to back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles.
Kellermann defeated Norio Sasaki, the male coach of Japan's Asian Cup winner, and Maren Meinert, who guided Germany to win the Women's Under-20 World Cup.