Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Wales' Gareth Bale (right) shake hands after the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon.

Every player Cristiano Ronaldo has voted for in the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award: Messi, Xavi, Bale…

Only Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or more often than Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar first won the most prestigious individual accolade while turning out for Manchester United in 2008, and he won it a further four times whilst conquering Europe with Real Madrid (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017).

“If I could, I’d vote for myself,” Ronaldo told France Football back in 2012.

“I am what I am and I’m happy with that. Being too humble isn’t good. In Portugal we say that too much humility is vanity.”

So who did he vote for? We’ve taken a look at every player that Ronaldo has voted for in the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s ‘The Best’ awards over the years.

Xavi Hernandez (2010)

Surprisingly enough, Ronaldo voted for a Barcelona icon when he first voted in the Ballon d’Or in 2010. More innocent times.

Xavi had been magnificent in Spain’s World Cup victory that year, so it was a fair enough shout. But a cynic might suggest that Ronaldo voted for the midfielder as he saw him as the likeliest challenger to his old rival Lionel Messi that year.

Messi retained the golden ball that year, the second of the eight he’s won, while Xavi and Andres Iniesta shared the podium with him. A picture of the three La Masia graduates adorns a wall in Barcelona’s famous academy to this day.

Iker Casillas (2010)

Ronaldo’s second-place vote in 2010 went to his captain at Real Madrid, Iker Casillas. Wonder if there were any awkward chats about him choosing Xavi ahead of him.

The goalkeeper’s extraordinary save against Arjen Robben was one of the defining moments of Spain’s World Cup win that year. He ended up seventh, one place behind Ronaldo, in that year’s Ballon d’Or rankings.

Wesley Sneijder (2010)

“People still approach me to tell me that they feel I should have won the Ballon d’Or in 2010, but I keep telling them that winning the Champions League was nicer than an individual trophy,” the Dutchman reminisced after announcing his retirement.

“Of course, it would have been the icing on the cake, but it’s satisfying enough that people tell me I should have won it.”

Sneijder was probably the standout player in Inter’s historic 2009-10 treble victory. He received Ronaldo’s third-place vote and ended up fourth in the Ballon d’Or ranking.

You imagine that he’d have got his hands on the trophy had the Netherlands beat Spain in the final that year.

Radamel Falcao (2013)

Ronaldo abstained from Ballon d’Or voting in 2011 and 2012, in which Messi won it for a third and fourth successive year. He designated voting duties to international colleague Bruno Alves, who – surprise, surprise – voted for Ronaldo.

The Portugal captain returned to the vote in 2013, the year in which he broke Messi’s monopoly – the first time he won it since his Manchester United days.

His No.1 vote was somewhat surprising – Radamel Falcao, who moved from Atletico Madrid to Monaco that year, and ended up 11th in the overall rankings.

Gareth Bale (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

“Gareth is doing an incredible job. He had a tough start, amongst other things because he suffered a small injury which ruled him out of several games,” Ronaldo said in December 2013, having cast his vote for the Welshman in the Ballon d’Or rankings.

“Plus, the pressure at Real Madrid is huge. But he’s on the right track now and we’re helping him.”

Ronaldo voted for Bale in each of the following three years, including the top spot in 2016 – that’s more often than any other player.

The two forwards played alongside one another 157 times for Madrid, winning four Champions Leagues together. Bale assisted 32 of Ronaldo’s goals and Ronaldo assisted nine of Bale’s.

Mesut Ozil (2013)

Had Ronaldo voted in 2012, you imagine he might’ve picked Ozil for the top spot.

He enjoyed an incredible connection with the German playmaker as Los Blancos claimed the 2011-12 La Liga title with a record tally of 100 points and 121 goals. You imagine that was still factored into his thinking even after the comparatively underwhelming 2012-13 campaign and Ozil’s move to Arsenal.

Thirty-two of Ronaldo’s 450 Real Madrid goals were assisted by Ozil.

READ: A tribute to Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid: a ‘unique’ assist king

Sergio Ramos (2014, 2016, 2017)

Alongside Ronaldo, Ramos was one of the defining figures in one of the most successful periods of Real Madrid’s history – the defender got Ronaldo’s top vote after that header against Atletico Madrid in 2014, while he got the third and second place votes following their Champions League victories of 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Karim Benzema (2014, 2015) 

The French forward revealed that Ronaldo never congratulated him on his Ballon d’Or in 2022 – having produced the best year of his career as the talisman of Real Madrid’s La Liga and Champions League triumphs.

Things had moved over by then, but Ronaldo did not vote in the FIFA ‘The Best’ award that year, which was won by Messi. He did vote for Benzema alongside Bale in 2014 (second) and 2015 (first), though, during those peak BBC years.

No player has assisted more of Ronaldo’s goals. Forty-seven of his Madrid goals were set up by Benzema. Ronaldo himself assisted 29 of Benzema’s goals.

James Rodriguez (2015)

Given how the Colombian’s career has underwhelmingly petered out, it’s all too easy to write him off as having never reached the potential he showed at the 2014 World Cup.

But he was pretty great during his first couple of years with Real Madrid – as evidenced by Ronaldo voting him third place in 2015.

Barcelona won the treble with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez in 2014-15 but Ronaldo towed the company line and voted for his Madrid team-mates that year.

Luka Modric (2016, 2017, 2018)

The midfielder won both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award in 2018 after his stellar performances in Madrid’s Champions League triumph and Croatia’s unforgettable run to the World Cup final.

Ronaldo voted for him in the three successive years that they won Ol’ Big Ears together – second, first, second – in that order.

Marcelo (2017)

“More than a team-mate, a brother that football gave me,” Ronaldo posted on social media after Marcelo departed Real Madrid in 2022.

“On and off the fields, one of the biggest stars with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a locker room.

“Go with everything on this new adventure, Marcelo!”

The left-back received Ronaldo’s third-place vote in 2017.

Raphael Varane (2018)

The ninth – and last – of Ronaldo’s Real Madrid team-mates to have received his Ballon d’Or vote – second place in 2018.

The defender ended up reuniting at Manchester United three years later – and the respect there is evidently mutual.

“As a footballer, I don’t have words to describe him,” Varane said of Ronaldo in 2019.

“He has achieved something extraordinary: he has normalised extraordinary achievements.”

Antoine Griezmann (2018)

Ronaldo exclusively voted for his Madrid team-mates from 2014 and 2017 but he bucked that trend after moving to Juventus in 2018.

Griezmann, who had been outstanding in France’s 2018 World Cup win, received Ronaldo’s FIFA ‘The Best’ award third-place vote.

That year the France forward ended up on the Ballon d’Or podium, behind Modric and Ronaldo, and sixth in the FIFA rankings.

Mathijs De Ligt (2019)

Erik ten Hag’s Ajax knocked Juventus out of the Champions League en route to the semi-finals in 2019 – and made a big impression on Ronaldo.

Ronaldo scored home and away against the Eredivisie giants, but De Ligt – back then still a teenager – produced two colossal displays in Ajax’s 3-2 aggregate victory.

It also helps that the defender joined Ronaldo in Turin that summer.

Frenkie De Jong (2019)

Another Ajax man got Ronaldo’s second-place vote in 2019 – even after moving to Barcelona.

There were some suggestions that the pair might’ve linked up at Manchester United last summer, but it wasn’t to be.

Kylian Mbappe (2019, 2020)

The French World Cup winner has gone on the record as having grown up idolizing Ronaldo, so it must have been a pretty cool feeling to receive his vote in FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award – albeit only in third place both times.

“Mbappe is the future and the present,” Ronaldo said back in 2020.

“He’s a fantastic player, very fast, and he will be the future.”

Robert Lewandowski (2020, 2021)

The Ballon d’Or was cancelled after the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign, robbing Lewandowski of the award – he would’ve been a shoo-in for it that year after banging in a ridiculous number of goals as Bayern Munich claimed the treble.

But he picked up FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award that year, having received first-place votes from both Ronaldo and Messi, who finished second and third respectively.

Lewandowski retained it the following year, having also received a first-place vote from Ronaldo, although he was the runner-up to Messi in the Ballon d’Or.

Lionel Messi (2020)

After years of the era-defining rivals pettily refusing to vote for one another, Messi was the first to break rank by voting for Ronaldo – then at Juventus – in 2018 and 2019.

Ronaldo returned the favour in 2020 by voting for Messi in second place, behind Lewandowski.

READ: Every player Lionel Messi has voted for in the Ballon d’Or & FIFA ‘The Best’: Ronaldo, Modric…

N’Golo Kante (2021)

Given how good he was in the semi-finals and final of Chelsea’s against-the-odds Champions League win of 2021, Kante can justifiably feel a little aggrieved to have only finished fifth in the Ballon d’Or and FIFA ‘The Best’ awards.

But he did earn the respect of Ronaldo, who voted Kante second place.

Jorginho (2021)

It still feels a bit weird that Jorginho won UEFA Player of the Year – but then again he won both the Champions League and Euro 2020 with club and country, so it’s not that weird.

The midfielder was Ronaldo’s third-choice pick for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award. He ended up sixth there, while he made the Ballon d’Or podium alongside Messi and Lewandowski.

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