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Nov 6, 2012

Ronaldo on Ballon d'Or: 'I'd vote for myself'

Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo said Tuesday he is growing tired of comparisons with Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, adding that the race for the Ballon d'Or is wide open.

"If I could, I'd vote for myself," Ronaldo, who won the award in 2008, told France Football. "I am what I am and I'm happy with that. Being too humble isn't good. In Portugal we say that too much humility is vanity.

"I play for the passion of football, and for the love of the teams I represent. If I was playing for money, I'd be at another club. All players love it when teams like Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United or Chelsea dream about them, but that's not in my thoughts."

Ronaldo and Messi, whose feats for Real Madrid and Barcelona continue to wow the football world, are widely considered to be in a head-to-head battle for the prestigious award.

Both are on a 23-man shortlist compiled by FIFA's football committee and experts from France Football magazine. The final three candidates will be revealed on Nov. 29 in Sao Paolo.

When asked who he expected to win the award, Ronaldo played down the supposed rivalry with Messi and suggested there were plenty of potential recipients.

"(The rivalry) is a question of the media," he told France Football. "We constantly face it to sell more papers and improve television audiences. The truth is I'm a little tired of it. It's a little heavy but I'm used to it. I don't like to compare myself with others.

"Messi and I are different, that's for sure. "I respect him a lot. Messi can win (the Ballon d'Or) but so can Xavi or (Andres) Iniesta. And we cannot forget (Didier) Drogba or (Radamel) Falcao. They can also receive the trophy."

Among the nominees from La Liga for the world's best player are six Real Madrid players, including Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Mesut Ozil, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso. Messi's Barcelona teammates, Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez are also candidates, along with Atletico Madrid's Falcao.

Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure, all from Manchester City, are nominees, along with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

The other nominees are Juventus players Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon, Shanghai Shenhua's Drogba, PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer and Santos (Brazil's) Neymar.

Seven of the 23 candidates are from the Spanish national team.

The Ballon d'Or ceremony will take place in Zurich on Jan. 7, 2013, when the player who receives the most votes from coaches and captains of international teams, and reporters, will be announced.

Former Real Madrid and Brazil striker Ronaldo believes that, despite Ronaldo's brilliance, Messi is more deserving of the award because of his "magic."

"Messi would get my vote because, in addition to being decisive -- scoring lots of goals and winning trophies -- he's able to bring a special and different kind of magic to football," Ronaldo told the FIFA website.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is a very technical, very skillful and very pragmatic player, but Messi continues to produce the unexpected on a regular basis."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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