- Cristiano Ronaldo wins the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2014
- Ronaldo wins the award for second successive year and third time in total
- Award for world footballer of the year voted for by national coaches, captains and world media
- Germany international manager Joachim Low wins World Coach of the Year
(CNN)Cristiano Ronaldo has beaten Lionel Messi to the Ballon d'Or for the second successive year.
The 29-year-old was voted best player in the world ahead of the Argentina and Barcelona forward and German international and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer at a FIFA ceremony held in Zurich, Switzerland.
Ronaldo received the most votes from a panel made up of captains and coaches of national teams and a selection of the world's media.
"I would like to thank all of those who voted for me," Ronaldo said after receiving the award.
"It has been an incredible year. I would like to continue the work that I have done so far. I want to try to improve, to become better as each day goes by.
"I never thought that I would bring this trophy back home on three occasions. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time."
Ronaldo, who picked up his first world player of the year award in 2008 and repeated the feat in 2013, was hotly tipped to scoop the title for the third time after completing another spectacular season at Real Madrid.
The Portuguese scored 56 goals in 51 appearances for Los Blancos in all competitions in 2014 and netted a total of 61 goals from 60 appearances during the calendar year.
He was instrumental in helping Carlo Ancelotti's side lift a 10th UEFA Champions League title as well as winning the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Super Cup.
Ronaldo also broke the record for most La Liga hat-tricks in December last year. His three goals against Celta Vigo took him to a total of 23 hat-tricks, one more than La Liga legend Telmo Zarra and Real Madrid icon Alfredo di Stefano. In the same match he also notched up his 200th La Liga goal.
The Portuguese has enjoyed a remarkable La Liga season so far, scoring 26 times in 17 matches for table-topping Real Madrid this term.
Messi, who won the FIFA award for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012, admitted in an interview at the weekend that it would be "difficult" to win this year when Ronaldo and Neuer had enjoyed such success in 2014 -- the German was a key member of country's World Cup winning side in Brazil and conceded just 40 goals in 62 matches all year.
If nothing else, the trip to Zurich was a welcome distraction from speculation about his future at Barcelona.
Rumors have circulated recently that the Argentine is unhappy at the Nou Camp -- Messi was recently left out of the starting line up in a La Liga match against Real Sociedad and missed a training session the following day with "a stomach bug."
Reports have suggested that he is unhappy with manager Luis Enrique's coaching methods and is seeking suitors in the English Premier League. But he was quick to dismiss any idea of a move.
Speaking to Barcelona TV after the Catalan club's 3-1 win against Atletico Madrid, Messi said suggestions that he wanted to leave the Spanish giants were "lies."
"I haven't asked for anything to stay here because I have never wanted to go anywhere else. I have also heard that I have spoken to Chelsea and [Manchester] City...but it's all lies," Messi told the Spanish club's TV channel.
Stories circulating that he had poor relationships with former coach Pep Guardiola, former star players including Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and asked for them to be moved on were "in no way true," he said.
"I am tired of hearing things about me. They say that I run the club when I am just another player. I don't make those decisions, nor have I asked to make them."
However, at the awards ceremony, Messi sent the rumor mill turning when he admitted: "I don't know where I'll be next year."
He added: "I always said that I would finish my career at Barcelona and then at (his home town club in Argentina) Newell's.
"As Cristiano (Ronaldo) said recently, football has many twists and anything can happen."
Low on a high
A number of other awards were given out during the star-studded ceremony including the World Coach of the Year which went to the man who masterminded Germany's World Cup win last July, Joachim Low.
"It is the icing on the cake, the cake being the World Cup," Low said.
"I know this award is not just for me, I am taking it here on behalf of all those who have assisted. We have had excellent conditions to produce what we have been able to produce.
"It's a consequence of many years of hard work. I'd like to say thank you to all of the German coaches who do so much with the young players every day."
The award for the Women's World Player of the Year went to German midfielder Nadine Kessler who beat Brazil striker Marta and Abby Wambach, the U.S. team's all-time leading goalscorer to the title.
Kessler succeeds her compatriot Nadine Angerer, who became the first goalkeeper to win the award 12 months ago.
James Rodriguez's sensational volley at the 2014 World Cup won the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of 2014.
The 23-year-old netted his goal during Colombia's 2-0 win against South American rivals Uruguay in the last 16.
It was one of six goals Rodriguez scored during the tournament -- a total that earned him the coveted Golden Boot award, given to the player who scores most goals at a World Cup Finals.
"I'd like to thank everybody who has voted for me. This was a very special moment for me and everyone in Colombia. I feel incredibly happy."
Rodriguez's goal -- scored in front thousands of spectators at the Maracana stadium in Rio and watched by millions on television -- pipped Stephanie Roche's volley.
Roche's spectacular goal was witnessed by an altogether smaller audience -- just 95 people were at Peamount's National League game against Wexford Youths.
Even so Roche's effort beat Robin van Persie's flying header -- scored for Holland against Spain in the World Cup -- into third.