Madrid - Cristiano Ronaldo shut out Lionel Messi for the second straight year in the battle for the Ballon d'Or and he is showing no sign of giving up his grip as king of world football.
The 29-year-old Portuguese forward has been at the height of his powers again this year, terrorising opposing defences in the Champions League and Spain's La Liga.
He is also hungry for more. Asked at the Ballon d'Or ceremony what his favourite goal had been, Ronaldo was only half-joking when he said: "For me the next goal is always the most important."
Despite a patellar tendinosis problem in his left knee that contributed to an underwhelming World Cup, the Portugal captain was clearly a deserving winner of a third Ballon d'Or in a year in which he guided Real Madrid to their 10th Champions League title (but first in 12 years) and continued to rewrite the history books.The preening side of Ronaldo will always exist. His latest Ballon d'Or will likely take up residence in the museum he opened to honour himself in his home city of Funchal on the island of Madeira.
His story, though, is also one of a testament to extraordinary hard work and sacrifice. Ronaldo came from a poor background and many would say he has less natural talent than the elegant, diminutive Messi.
But Ronaldo has transformed himself from the skinny kid that arrived at Old Trafford into a physical specimen of the type football has rarely seen.
That physical transformation is a symbol of his desire to improve and raise the bar of achievement to a level previously thought impossible.
When he scored his fourth hat-trick of the current campaign against Celta Vigo in December, he moved through the double century mark for goals in La Liga in just 178 games.
His overall tally is a staggering 285 goals in 274 appearances for Madrid. It is no longer a question of whether Ronaldo will become their leading all time scorer, but when. Moreover, he is likely to pass Raul's record tally of 323 having played more than 400 fewer games.
The rivalry between the two has marked an era unlike any other. Maradona and Pele, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer never played in the same league, at the same time, for the two of the biggest sides in the world, judged head-to-head, week in, week out.
And for Ronaldo, the rivalry is certain to go on - just look at the Ballon d'Or count: Messi has four to Ronaldo's three.
Portugal's king of football always wants more.
Winning World Cup
Meanwhile Joachim Low's feat in guiding Germany to the 2014 World Cup trophy earned him the coach of the year award at the FIFA Ballon D'Or ceremony.
The 54-year-old beat Carlo Ancelotti - who coached Real Madrid to their 10th Champions League title - and Atletico Madrid's Argentinian handler Diego Simeone, who took them to the Spanish title and the Champions League final.
Low, who moved up from assistant coach to the top job after the 2006 World Cup, which Germany hosted and reached the semi-finals, said that the award rounded off a sensational year.
"It is for me a huge honour...it's the icing on the cake and the cake was winning the World Cup," said Low.
Loew, who also guided Germany to the Euro 2008 final where they lost to Spain, said that Germany's win in Brazil was no accident but had been the fruits of long hard labour.
"Winning the World Cup was the consequence of many years hard work and lots of right decisions."
The list of award winners:
Ballon d'Or: Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Real Madrid)
Woman player of the year: Nadine Kessler (GER/Wolfsburg)
Men's team coach of the year: Joachim Loew (GER/Allemagne)
Women's team coach of the year: Ralf Kellermann (GER/Wolfsburg)
Puskas prize for best goal: James Rodriguez (COL/Real Madrid)
Fairplay: Brazil 2014 World Cup volunteers
Presidents prize: Hiroshi Kagawa (JPN), oldest journalist (89) at 2014 World Cup finals which was the 10th one he had covered.
Team of the year:
Manuel Neuer (GER/Bayern Munich); Sergio Ramos (ESP/Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (BRA/Paris SG), David Luiz (BRA/Paris SG), Philipp Lahm (GER/Bayern Munich); Andres Iniesta (ESP/Barcelona), Toni Kroos (GER/Real Madrid), Angel Di Maria (ARG/Manchester United); Arjen Robben (NED/Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Real Madrid)