Ronaldo captures UEFA's Player of the Year award for 3rd time in 4 years
Reuters / Eric Gaillard

How anti-climactic.

After leading Real Madrid's march to the summit of La Liga and a second consecutive Champions League title, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo won UEFA's Men's Player of the Year award Thursday for the third time in four seasons.

Ronaldo stiff-armed eternal rival Lionel Messi and evergreen goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for the accolade.

The 32-year-old is the only player to claim the nascent honour on three occasions, breaking a tie with Messi.

Although Ronaldo scored just two goals in last season's group stage, he came to life when Madrid most needed him. The Madeira native followed up a two-goal performance in the quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich with a hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu, and produced another treble in the semi-final against Atletico Madrid.

Another two goals in the final sealed Madrid's 12th win in the competition at the expense of Juventus.

Ronaldo enjoyed success in a more traditional No. 9 role, as manager Zinedine Zidane limited his minutes against smaller clubs in league and cup play.

What Madrid had by the end of the season was an in-form player whose ruthlessness helped Los Blancos make modern history in the Champions League.

Ronaldo captures UEFA's Player of the Year award for 3rd time in 4 years
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