Paris - Cristiano Ronaldo called it "a dream come true again" as he won his fourth Ballon d'Or on Monday to get one over his nemesis Lionel Messi for the title of best player in the world.
It was the perfect ending to another fantastic year for the Real Madrid star, who won the Champions League for the second time in three seasons and then led Portugal to their first major title at Euro 2016 - albeit he went off early injured and in tears in the surprise victory over France.
As has been the case for almost a decade now, the 31-year-old's main rival was Messi - but the Barcelona and Argentine maestro had to relinquish the crown after a less-than-stellar year for club and country by his lofty standards.
Ronaldo is now one Ballon d'Or behind Messi, who was second this time with French striker Antoine Griezmann third.
Never one to play down his achievements, Ronaldo was spotted midweek in training having dyed his hair gold in anticipation and several media outlets published a photo earlier on Monday appearing to confirm he was the winner, before organisers France Football magazine made the official announcement.
"For me it's a great honour to receive my fourth Ballon d'Or. The emotion is like the first one - it's a dream come true again," Ronaldo, who is at the Club World Cup in Japan, told L'Equipe TV.
"I never thought in my mind to win four times the Ballon d'Or, I'm so pleased and so happy.
"I have to thank all my team-mates, the national team, Real Madrid, all the people, the players who helped me to win this individual trophy.
"I want to enjoy this moment because it's not easy to win this."
Fourth was Luis Suarez and fifth his fellow Barcelona attacker Neymar, with Ronaldo's Welsh team-mate Gareth Bale sixth.
Ronaldo was the firm favourite to win, but the prestigious prize comes at a time when the prolific forward has generated negative headlines in the past week over accusations of tax evasion.
Denying any wrongdoing, he responded by publishing his financial records last week, showing last year he earned a whopping $240 million.
"You believe I am worried? He who owes nothing, fears nothing," Ronaldo told broadcaster RTP at the time.
Ronaldo, the highest-paid sportsman in the world, first won the Ballon d'Or in 2008 after Premier League and Champions League triumphs with Manchester United.
But it was only in 2013 that he added his second - Messi had hogged it before then - and Ronaldo made it a hat-trick the following year.
United were quick to offer their congratulations on Twitter, calling a fourth Ballon d'Or "incredible".
Real said Ronaldo, who last month signed a bumper new five-year contract, had enjoyed "a sensational year".
The first Ballon d'Or was won by Stanley Matthews, at the time with Blackpool, who beat Alfredo Di Stefano for the inaugural title in 1956.
The Ballon d'Or is decided by a vote of 173 journalists.
Previous winners of the Ballon d'or after Cristiano Ronaldo won the award for a fourth time on Monday:
1956: Stanley Matthews (ENG)
1957: Alfredo Di Stefano (ESP)
1958: Raymond Kopa (FRA)
1959: Alfredo Di Stefano (ESP)
1960: Luis Suarez (ESP)
1961: Omar Sivori (ITA)
1962: Josef Masopust (CZE)
1963: Lev Yashin (USSR)
1964: Denis Law (SCO)
1965: Eusebio (POR)
1966: Bobby Charlton (ENG)
1967: Florian Albert (HUN)
1968: George Best (NIR)
1969: Gianni Rivera (ITA)
1970: Gerd Mueller (GER)
1971: Johan Cruyff (NED)
1972: Franz Beckenbauer (GER)
1973: Johan Cruyff (NED)
1974: Johan Cruyff (NED)
1975: Oleg Blokhin (USSR)
1976: Franz Beckenbauer (GER)
1977: Alan Simonsen (DEN)
1978: Kevin Keegan (ENG)
1979: Kevin Keegan (ENG)
1980: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (GER)
1981: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (GER)
1982: Paolo Rossi (ITA)
1983: Michel Platini (FRA)
1984: Michel Platini (FRA)
1985: Michel Platini (FRA)
1986: Igor Belanov (USSR)
1987: Ruud Gullit (NED)
1988: Marco van Basten (NED)
1989: Marco van Basten (NED)
1990: Lothar Matthäus (GER)
1991: Jean-Pierre Papin (FRA)
1992: Marco van Basten (NED)
1993: Roberto Baggio (ITA)
1994: Hristo Stoichkov (BUL)
1995: George Weah (LBR)
1996: Matthias Sammer (GER)
1997: Ronaldo (BRA)
1998: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)
1999: Rivaldo (BRA)
2000: Luis Figo (POR)
2001: Michael Owen (ENG)
2002: Ronaldo (BRA)
2003: Pavel Nedved (CZE)
2004: Andrei Shevchenko (UKR)
2005: Ronaldinho (BRA)
2006: Fabio Cannavaro (ITA)
2007: Kaka (BRA)
2008: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)
2009: Lionel Messi (ARG)
2010: Lionel Messi (ARG)
2011: Lionel Messi (ARG)
2012: Lionel Messi (ARG)
2013: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)
2014: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)
2015: Lionel Messi (ARG)
2016: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR)
Factfile on Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the Ballon d'Or for the fourth time on Monday:
Name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
Date of birth: February 5, 1985
Place of birth: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Clubs: Sporting Lisbon (2002-2003), Manchester United (2003-2009), Real Madrid (since 2009)
National team: Portugal
International appearances: 136
International goals: 68
International debut: August 20, 2003, Portugal 1 Kazakhstan 0
Champions League (3): 2008, 2014, 2016
Club World Cup (2): 2008, 2014
English Championships (3): 2007, 2008, 2009
English FA Cup (1): 2004
English League Cups (2): 2006, 2009
Community Shields (2): 2007, 2008
Spanish Championship (1): 2012
Spanish Cup (2): 2011, 2014
Spanish Supercup (1): 2012
Portuguese Supercup (1): 2002
European Championships: winner (2016)
Ballon d'Or (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016)
FIFA World Player of the Year (2008)
Four times top European Goal Scorer (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015)
Three times top scorer in the Spanish league: (2011: 41 goals; 2014: 31 goals; 2015: 48 goals)
Top scorer in the English Premiership with 31 goals (2008)
Five times top scorer in the Champions League (2008 with eight goals, 2013 with 12 goals; 2014 with 17, 2015 with 10, 2015-2016 with 16)
Record of goals scored in one season of the Champions League (2013-2014: 17)