Zurich (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo ended the four-year dominance of Lionel Messi when he was awarded the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday.
The tearful 28-year-old Real Madrid and Portugal star, who won the award in 2008, had been the overwhelming favorite to pip Barcelona and Argentina wonder Messi, winner the previous four years, and France’s Franck Ribery, who claimed the treble with Bayern Munich in 2013.
Ronaldo won with 27.99% of the votes ahead of Messi (24.72%) while Ribery was third (23.36%) according to France Football, co-organizers of the award with FIFA.
“There are no words to describe how I feel,” said Ronaldo.
“I’m delighted, I want to thank all my team-mates, all my family in the room.
“Those who know me know how many sacrifices I made to win this reward.
“I want to thank all those who had faith in me and I want to speak again about (recently deceased Portugal legend) Eusebio and (recently deceased former South Africa president) Madiba (Nelson Mandela) and to pay tribute to them one last time.”
“Without doubt I deserved this, Messi and Ribery would have also deserved it.
“Each time is different. But I would say that this second Ballon d’Or is more emotional, because my mother and my son (who joined him on stage) are here.”
Real president Florentino Perez paid tribute to Ronaldo.
“The only thing I wish to say is that this Ballon d’Or is justified to be for Cristiano Ronaldo, it is recognition of hard work, talent, and a desire to win daily.”
For Messi, sporting a striking red dinner jacket, Ronaldo’s win didn’t change very much.
“I would have loved to have won, but as it is the motivation is the same to keep growing, improving and winning things,” he commented via Barcelona’s twitter page.
However, UEFA President and French football icon Michel Platini found it strange that Ribery should miss out in a year that he helped Bayern carry all before them.
Indeed Platini, who won the Ballon d’Or three times, said the nature of the award had changed since it fell under FIFA’s aegis in 2010.
“I am very disappointed for Franck Ribery. Next year we will return and it will be Messi-Ronaldo, in two years time the same and three years time ditto.
Copyright 2014 The National Memo