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Cristiano Ronaldo has emerged the 2017 Ballon d’Or winner. The Real Madrid star boy was on Thursday announced as the winner in a glitzy ceremony at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The Portugese superstar clinched the gong for a fifth time by finishing ahead of Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Ronaldo is now leveled with Barcelona’s Messi on five Ballon d’Ors following a 2016-17 season in which he won the Champions League and La Liga double with Real Madrid.

The 2017 winner was unveiled in a dramatic video which slowly zoomed in on a sparkling Eiffel Tower to reveal Ronaldo standing on the podium and holding up the trophy.

‘Of course, I feel happy. It’s a big moment in my career,’ Ronaldo said upon being presented with the award. ‘It’s something I hope to win every year. Thanks to my Real Madrid team-mates. And I want to thank the rest of the people who helped me reach this level.’

Ronaldo was unveiled as the winner of the Ballon d’Or award as the superstar stood on a podium attached to the Eiffel Tower.

Ronaldo was later joined on stage by his mother Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro and son Cristiano Ronaldo Jr as his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez watched on from the audience.

David Ginola presented the show in Paris, with the Brazilian Ronaldo providing assistance, and handed the award over at the glamorous ceremony in the French capital.

Ronaldo came out on top in the ceremony as organisers France Football revealed the 32-year-old beat out competition from the 29 other nominees to win the award, which is voted for by a group of 173 journalists.

Barcelona’s Messi finished as runner-up to Ronaldo in what was the seventh consecutive year where the superstars have occupied the top two positions in the voting.

Neymar, who became the world’s most expensive player when he joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for £198million in August, came third. Juventus’ veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon finished fourth.

The Premier League’s highest placed player was Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante who finished eighth while Tottenham striker Harry Kane just sneaked into the top 10.

Ronaldo’s Madrid team-mates were also in the running, with Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos finishing fifth and sixth respectively. Isco (12th), Marcelo (16th), Toni Kroos (17th) and Karim Benzema (25th) rounded off Los Blancos’ seven nominations for the award.

The camera drew closer and closer to Ronaldo who was standing on the Eiffel Tower which was lit up for the occasion
It is the latest individual award handed to Ronaldo after he was named FIFA’s The Best men’s player in London in October beating Messi and Neymar to the prize.

Ronaldo finished with 946 points in the voting system, which sees journalists select their first, second and third-placed selections.

The ceremony comes during a period when Ronaldo is struggling to recapture his best form for Madrid with just two La Liga goals so far this season for Los Blancos.

However his form in Europe has been much better and he became the first man to score in all six Champions League group stage games when he scored for Madrid in their 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the award over the past decade, sharing it for the past 10 seasons ever since AC Milan’s Brazilian midfielder Kaka won ahead of the pair at the 2007 ceremony.

Messi’s Ballon d’Ors came in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 while Ronaldo has been more dominant in recent seasons by winning four of the last five awards to add to his 2008 triumph.

His fifth award means he and Messi are tied for most wins, with two more than any other player in history. Michael Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten were both awarded the gong three times – under it’s previous incarnation the European Footballer of the Year award.

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Kanu Nwankwo Weeps, As Vandals Steal All His Career Medals; Hotel Taken Over By Unknown Persons

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Legendary Nigerian Footballer and Olympic Gold Captain, Nwankwo Kanu is not a happy man right now after losing his football medals and several valuables.

The Atlanta ’96 Olympic gold winner has revealed how suspected vandals invaded his The Hardley Apartments situated along Waziri Ibrahim Crescent on Victoria Island, making away with his football medals, trophies, plaques and other valuable items.

The hotel has been sealed up since 2015 sequel to an alleged default in transaction between it and Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), leading to series of litigation that is still pending at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. The last hearing came up in November last year after which the case was adjourned till 31 January 2019.

But a shocked Kanu, who was in London for the Yuletide, learnt from relatives and business associates in Nigeria last week that the Apartments, with registration number 509102, had been occupied by some authorized persons who had also commenced renovation of the facility in disregard of the seal order and litigation, forcing him to arrive in Nigeria over the weekend to verify the claims.

“It was a rude shock to me,” Kanu, who fought back tears at what the hitherto sprawling facility had become since the renovation started, told TheCable.

“I almost couldn’t recognise the hotel as belonging to me anymore. This is the saddest day of my life as I cannot understand why this happen to me when the matter has yet to be settled in court.

“All the medals I have earned, in addition to the Olympic torch that I cherished are all gone and I don’t even know who to ask for all these prized assets.”

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Mohamed Salah Crowned African Player Of The Year For Second Straight Year

Peter Okunoren

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Mohamed Salah of Egypt is the African Player of the Year 2018, for the second time in a row, it was announced in Dakar, Senegal Tuesday night.

He beat two other competitors shortlisted with him, Liverpool team mate Sadio Mane and Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang of Arsenal.

“I have dreamt of winning this award since I was a child and now I have done so twice in a row,” Salah said soon after receiving his trophy.

“My thanks go to my family, my team-mates and my fans and I dedicate this trophy to my homeland, Egypt.”

It was an identical outcome to last year when Salah became only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud al Khatib to be voted the best footballer in Africa.

Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa was crowned African Women’s Player of the Year 2018 at the Aiteo-CAF awards, while Nigeria’s female team won Women’s National Team of the Year.

Achraf Hakimi was named African Youth Player of the Year 2018.

Mo Salah was also not surprisingly named among Africa’s Best X1 players that did not include any Nigerian.

Other players are Aubameyang, Mane, Mahrez, Keita, Partey, Koulibaly, Bailly, Benatia and Aurier.

Onyango as the goalkeeper completed the Africa Eleven.

Mauritania are the Men’s national Team of the Year.

The coaches were also recognised with Herve Renard winning Men’s coach of the Year and Desiree Ellis, coach of the Bayana Bayana, winning Women’s Coach of the Year. (NAN)

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Buhari Orders Prosecution Of Amaju Pinnick Over NFF Multi-Billion Alleged Fraud, Banned From Traveling

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President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the prosecution of the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, over an alleged multi-billion scam in the organisation.

It was also learnt that the Federal Government through the Presidential investigative panel headed by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, had placed Pinnick on travel ban.

Our correspondent gathered on Saturday that Buhari gave the order for Pinnick’s prosecution when the Obono-Obla presented a preliminary investigation report to him.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission also addressed a report on the NFF to Mr President detailing the outcome of their investigations which tallied with what Obono-Obla’s panel had submitted to the President.

EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu had in his six-page report informed Buhari that the anti-graft agency had investigated and prosecuted the Director, Finance and Administration, Christopher Andekin; Head, Finance and Administration, NFF, Jafaru Mamzah and a cashier with the Finance and Administration department of the NFF, Rajan Zaka over an alleged financial scam in the football governing house in connection with financial payments from Federation of International Football Associations and Confederation of African Football to NFF between 2014 and 2016.

But Buhari who was said to have been visibly angry over the alleged monumental scam ordered Pinnick to also be prosecuted. He directed Magu to embark on a wider investigation into the remittances to the
NFF between 2017 and 2018.

The president, who was reportedly shocked by the mind-boggling report and additional revelations directed Magu to ensure a comprehensive and discreet investigation with watertight and unassailable facts and
pieces of evidence that would nail the suspects at the court.

According to the EFCC preliminary report, EFCC stated that it commenced full investigation into the finances of the NFF where it discovered that the domiciliary accounts of the NFF domiciled with two top nigerian banks had received total inflow of $16,417,761 from FIFA and CAF between January, 2014 and June, 2016.

Magu in the report also informed Buhari that investigation into the case had been concluded. He added that Christopher Andekin; Head, Finance and Administration, NFF, Jafaru Mamzah and a cashier with the Finance and Administration department of NFF, Rajan Zaka were indicted and arraigned on October 15, 2018 before Justice P.O. Affem of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, No 19 Maitama Abuja on five criminal charges of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by a public officer.

The EFCC’s boss further informed Buhari that the commission also received another petition dated April 24, 2016 captioned ‘Monumental stealing and financial crisis in the Nigeria Football Federation’, from James Peters of Amal Pepple Estate, Abuja.

He stated that in the course of investigation, the Minister (Sports) forwarded to the commission, documents in support of the petition revealing sponsorship deals amounting to N1.14bn and $1.55m via his letter No. HMY &SP/003/2018/55 dates August 7, 2018.

Magu said, “Investigation into this petition has so far established that the NFF has sponsorship deals with 21 corporate organisation. The investigation further revealed that between 2008 and 2018, 11 out of the 21 corporate organisations made sponsorship payment of N5,288,990,000 and $1,550,000 to NFF as against the amounted stated in the ministers’ letter under reference above.

“One of the companies appointed as financial consultant to the NFF is owned by the 2nd Vice President of the NFF in person of Alhaji Shehu Dikko. The audit trail of the funds and its utilisation is currently ongoing with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable of any offence.”

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