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Jan 13, 2014

Ronaldo named Ballon d'Or winner

Cristiano Ronaldo says playing in an era with players like Messi and Ribery pushes him to improve everyday.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d'Or after a stunning year that saw him net an astonishing 69 goals in 59 games, ending Lionel Messi's four-year run as the world's best player.

A tearful Cristiano Ronaldo accepted the Ballon d'Or on Monday.

• Molyneux-Carter: Bringing balance to the Ballon d'Or
• Smith: The trouble with picking the best

The Real Madrid talisman's achievements saw him surpass Hugo Sanchez in his club's scoring charts and equal Portugal legend Pauleta at the top of his country's list with 47 in 109 games.

Fourteen of his goals came in the Champions League as Madrid reached the semifinals before being beaten by Borussia Dortmund -- and that total eclipsed the record of 13 achieved in the season before by the shortlisted Messi.

His 2013 goal tally has overshadowed those of his two Ballon d'Or rivals, Messi and Franck Ribery, and he is the top scorer in all of Europe's biggest leagues.

Ronaldo, accompanied by Florentino Perez, Zinedine Zidane, Emilio Butragueno and Sergio Ramos, flew to the Zurich ceremony from Madrid after training on Monday morning. Speaking as he received the award, a tearful Ronaldo said: "Thank you to everyone, my teammates, the national team and my family, to everyone here. Eusebio and Mandela were very important for me, I can't speak."

Voting was done by national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists, in FIFA's 209 member countries who chose their top 3 preferences.

In a tight race, Ronaldo received 1,365 points, Messi had 1,205 and Ribery got 1,127.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann voted Ribery first, followed by Gareth Bale and Radamel Falcao, while American captain Clint Dempsey had Ronaldo first followed by Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Paul Kennedy of Soccer America voted Ronaldo first, followed by Messi and Ribery.

Pele, after a dramatic pause and smile, read out Ronaldo's name. The Madrid star rolled back his head and closed his eyes, grinning, then kissed his girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, before going up to the stage.

"People who know me know how many people helped me," the emotional winner said in Portuguese. "If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologize because I am deeply moved."

Pele greeted Ronaldo minutes after he also cried on stage when collecting an honorary Ballon d'Or for his own outstanding career. Pele finally received a Ballon d'Or trophy which he could never get during his career when the original prize created by France Football magazine in 1956 was restricted to European players.

The only player to win the World Cup three times -- in 1958, '62 and '70 -- was given a standing ovation at the Zurich Kongresshaus.

"I promised my family I would not cry but I am emotional," Pele said. "Thank God, I complete my trophies at home."

Ronaldo had to wait five years since first winning the award as a Manchester United player, as Messi found a way to overshadow him in each of the past four years -- despite the Portugal winger's prolific scoring for Madrid. However, Ronaldo was heavily favored this time after FIFA extended the balloting deadline beyond the World Cup playoffs in November and allowed voters to change preferences.

The Portugal star's display in Stockholm was so impressive it seemed certain to sway voters at a time when Messi was sidelined by his third injury of the year.

Still, FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio said Monday the standings were unchanged by the voting rules adjustment, which raised the turnout from around 50 to 88 percent.

Ronaldo said earlier Monday that he made peace with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whose stated personal preference last October for Messi sparked speculation that the eventual winner would snub the ceremony.


Meanwhile, the other awards were also presented:

FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year: Nadine Angerer
FIFA Men’s Football Coach of the Year: Jupp Heynckes 
FIFA Women’s Football Coach of the Year: Silvia Neid
FIFA Presidential Award: Jacque Rogge
FIFA Fair Play Award: Afghanistan Football Federation
FIFA Puskas Award: Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Sweden v England
Ballon d'Or Prix d'Honneur: Pele

FIFA/FIFPro World XI:

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich
Defender: Philipp Lahm – Bayern Munich
Defender: Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid
Defender: Thiago Silva – PSG
Defender: Dani Alves – FC Barcelona
Midfielder: Andres Iniesta – FC Barcelona
Midfielder: Xavi Hernandez – FC Barcelona
Midfielder: Franck Ribery – Bayern Munich
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrd
Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG
Forward: Lionel Messi – FC Barcelona

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