Ronaldo to attend Ballon d'Or ceremony
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has confirmed he will go the 2013 Ballon d’Or award ceremony on Jan. 13.
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Ronaldo, who is nominated for the award along with Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi, had previously refused to say he would attend amid speculation that he would only go to Zurich if he was sure he was going to win.
The Portugal international, who is now the favourite to take a second Ballon d’Or trophy after FIFA extended the voting period late last year, told reporters after Monday’s 3-0 La Liga win over Celta Vigo that he would be at the event next week.
“That subject is closed and I do not want to talk any more about it,” Ronaldo said in AS. “I can only say that I will go to the gala. If I win then very good, and if not then life goes on.”
Ronaldo was quieter than usual for the first 80 minutes of Monday’s game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but clinically scored two late goals to ensure the win. He dedicated the double afterwards to Portugal legend Eusebio, who had been honoured inside the stadium before kickoff with a well-observed minute’s silence following the news of his death at the weekend.
“I appreciate the tribute that the stadium and Spain have paid to him,” Ronaldo said. “To feel the warmth of Spain and the rest of the world is very important. I was very close to him and he helped me a lot. He is a legend for me and today is a sad day and, obviously, the goals were for him.”
Asked for his views on Xabi Alonso’s ongoing contract situation, meanwhile, Ronaldo said that was for Alonso and Madrid president Florentino Perez to sort out.
“That is the president’s problem -- I do not want to know anything about it,” he said. “And all these problems have a solution. The only problem that cannot be solved is death. [Alonso] is 32, he does not need me to say anything. I hope he stays with us.”
Ronaldo was also diplomatic when speaking about teammate Angel Di Maria, who was criticised for an apparent offensive gesture to whistling Bernabeu fans as he was substituted during Monday’s game.
“I did not see anything strange,” Ronaldo said. “Nothing special. He looks good to me, helping the team.”
Di Maria was being replaced at that time by Gareth Bale, who returned from a recent calf problem and helped the team come through a tricky game in which Celta had the better chances at 0-0.
The Welsh winger told Real Madrid TV -- in comments reported by AS -- that the issue had been quite difficult to recover from, but he felt 100 percent fit now.
“It is fine -- it was quite a bad dead calf that I had in training,” Bale said. “Just one of those things that happen. But I feel back to full fitness now. I feel great and looking forward to the rest of the season.”
On providing the assist for Ronaldo’s second goal with a driving run past his full-back and cross, Bale said he had been happy to play a part in getting an important three points.
“That is part of my job,” he said. “It is important to score goals and, if not, to create them. It was nice to get an assist and nice to get the win. It is very important to get off to a good start. It was difficult for most of the game, but nice to come away with the victory and the three points. A good start to 2014.”