Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Emotional Ronaldo ends Messi run

Updated: 2014-01-15 07:21
By Agence France-Presse in Zurich ( China Daily)

Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't hide how much it meant to him, finally being voted the world's best soccer player again.

Having spent four years in the shadow of his great rival, Lionel Messi, Ronaldo broke down in tears after being voted the Ballon d'Or winner for 2013 on Monday - a rare display of emotion that showed just how important it was for the Portugal winger to get his hands on the trophy again.

Ronaldo first won soccer's biggest individual prize five years ago, but then watched as Messi found a way of upstaging him each year despite consistently scoring at an unprecedented rate for Real Madrid.

"There are no words to describe this moment," said Ronaldo, crying openly while his three-year-old son, also named Cristiano, stood at his feet. The boy had just been hoisted by Brazil great Pele to touch the golden trophy as his father gathered himself to speak.

"People who know me know how many people helped me," Ronaldo said in Portuguese.

"If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologize because I am deeply moved."

Earlier on Monday, Ronaldo was cautiously diplomatic at a news conference, facing reporters who mostly predicted his prolific 69-goal tally in 2013 would end Messi's four-year victory run.

Ronaldo's stunning hat-trick against Sweden in a decisive World Cup playoff in November also appeared to stand out as the year's defining individual performance.

"If I win, fine. If I don't, life goes on," he said, acknowledging Messi's sustained excellence for Madrid nemesis Barcelona had pushed him to improve.

Ronaldo also said he has made peace with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whose ill-judged comments in October stating a preference for Messi seemed to confirm a long-held belief in Portugal and Madrid that their player was destined to lose.

"We talked over the telephone and everything was cleared," Ronaldo said before the ceremony. "This is no longer an issue - neither for us nor for football."

In October, Blatter was filmed telling a student audience in England he preferred four-time defending Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi because of his more modest personality.

The FIFA president suggested Ronaldo was too concerned about his hairstyle, and mimicked the player's stature as a "commander" on the field.

Ronaldo replied in an apparently sarcastic message on his social media accounts that the video "shows clearly the respect and consideration that FIFA has for me".

A message posted on the Real Madrid forward's Twitter account read: "I wish Mr Blatter health and a long life, with the certainty that he'll continue to witness the successes of his favorite teams and players."

The dispute led to speculation Ronaldo would snub the FIFA ceremony, and he celebrated his next goal for Madrid with a mock military salute.

In a tight race, Ronaldo received 1,365 points, Messi had 1,205 and Franck Ribery, the France and Bayern Munich winger, got 1,127.

On hearing his name called - delivered by Pele after a dramatic pause and smile - Ronaldo closed his eyes, grinned and dipped his head, then turned to kiss his girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, before walking to the stage.

Pele, who earlier cried on stage when accepting an honorary Ballon d'Or for his own outstanding career, greeted Ronaldo with a hug.

Though Ribery lost, Bayern got one victory as Jupp Heynckes won the coaching award for leading the team to a Champions League, Bundesliga and national cup treble last season before he retired.

Heynckes defeated Juergen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund and Alex Ferguson, who retired after winning another Premier League title for Manchester United.

European champion Germany swept the women's awards.

Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was player of the year ahead of US forward Abby Wambach, last year's winner, and Marta of Brazil. Sylvia Neid won the women's coaching award.

 Emotional Ronaldo ends Messi run

Cristiano Ronaldo reacts with his son, Cristiano Jr, after being awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or as world soccer player of the year in Zurich on Monday. Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

Emotional Ronaldo ends Messi run

(China Daily 01/15/2014 page24)