Lionel Messi beat Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk to the Ballon d’Or by just seven points to win a record sixth gong.
The Portuguese was never in the running to take the top gong and instead it was Van Dijk who came agonisingly close to becoming the first Liverpool ace to win it since Michael Owen in 2001.
In the end it came down to just a couple of votes from the 176 international journalists who participated.
Each journalist has to pick their top three with a point system of five for their best, three for second and one for third.
Messi picked up 686 points, seven ahead of Van Dijk’s total with Ronaldo third on 476.
Liverpool players dominated the top 10 with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Alisson third, fourth and seventh respectively.
Kylian Mbappe had 89 points while Riyad Mahrez rounded off the top 10 with 33.
Messi’s total was less than last year’s winner Luka Modric who picked up 753 points.
Van Dijk, who many thought deserved the trophy after winning the Champions League, remained gracious after being pipped to the award.
He said: “You need to respect greatness. It was an amazing year — but there’s a couple of players who are a bit unnatural.
“I was close but there was someone a bit better.
“I never thought I’d be up for a Ballon d’Or until I was actually nominated.
“It shows a lot about how my career’s been. I came late but never gave up on my dreams.
“I had to work hard every step of the way so to be here makes me so proud.”
Messi has previously won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
The Barcelona star added: “Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers.
“And today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.
“As my wife explained, you must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy. I am very lucky, I am blessed.”
Ronaldo did not attend the glitzy do in Paris and instead showed up at the 2019 Gran Cala del Calcio do in Milan to pick up the Best Player in Serie A gong.
When asked if Ronaldo’s absence meant he had one fewer rival to beat to claim the crown, Van Dijk joked: “Was he a rival then?”
But the tongue-in-cheek response prompted an almighty rant from 34-year-old Ronaldo’s older sister Katia Aveiro on Instagram.
She wrote: “I think there are people living completely frustrated and unrealistic!
“It is well known that Ronaldo will not win tonight’s prize. Although he has won important collective titles… but this is another conversation.
“Now, dear Virgil, where you are going, Cristiano Ronaldo has gone and come a thousand times.
“You see, my dear Virgil, that Cristiano Ronaldo was a tri-champion in the country where you have been playing for years and you still haven’t got your hand on the trophy.
“Now, Virgil, win titles from those who really count and then we’ll talk.
“When you have a handful of them, the really important ones, you might be able to sit at the table with Cristiano.”