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The countdown continues: four weeks to go

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 7:41:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Today marks exactly four weeks until the footballing world eagerly turns its attention to Zurich’s Kongresshaus as the curtain rises on the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala. This milestone provides an ideal opportunity for to start the week with a striking statistic about the beautiful game’s most prestigious individual award.

Getting to the very top is difficult enough, but staying there is even harder. Four men have managed to defend their title for at least one year since the FIFA World Player of the Year accolade was introduced in 1991 (before continuing as the FIFA Ballon d’Or from 2010 onwards). The first player to complete this remarkable achievement was Brazilian legend Ronaldo, winning the award in 1996 and 1997. His compatriot Ronaldinho repeated the feat in 2004 and 2005, with Argentina’s Lionel Messi collecting the prize every year from 2009 to 2012. Last year, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo became the fourth man to join this exclusive club thanks to his victories in 2013 and 2014.

The aforementioned quartet of gifted attacking maestros has already collected a staggering 12 awards between them, and with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo joining Brazil’s Neymar on the 2015 shortlist, it seems highly likely that this figure will rise in four weeks time.

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