Lionel Messi said injuries had not helped his bid for the 2013 Ballon d’Or award but felt that Cristiano Ronaldo had been a deserving winner of the prize.
Messi had won every edition of the FIFA Ballon d’Or since its 2010 foundation before Ronaldo ended his run on Monday, but the Barcelona star told AS that he had no complaints over the Real Madrid man’s triumph.
“I want to congratulate Cristiano because he was the winner and deserved it,” Messi, who also claimed the original Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2009, said.
Ronaldo cried on stage after finishing ahead of Messi and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery, and Messi said: “[His tears] were normal, it is a very emotional moment.
“I have nothing to say. I believe it was a good year for the three players, and that is why we were the three who were there. I have nothing to complain about, nor any excuses to make. It is a pleasure [just] to be here for a seventh consecutive year. It is very nice.”
Asked if the result might have been different had he not been hampered by thigh muscle injuries for most of 2013, Messi said: “I do not know if it would have been different without the injuries.
“I was a long time out, that is true. I did not arrive in good condition for the semifinals of the Champions League, and this season I was injured as soon as the season began, but that has nothing to do with it. Cristiano deserved to win.
“It was a difficult year. Not just for the injuries, but for the things said about me and my family. I hope I can enjoy my football in 2014."
Barca defender Dani Alves told Mundo Deportivo said he too accepted that Ronaldo had triumphed in the voting.
“You have to know how to win and know how to lose,” Alves said. “Today is Cristiano’s day and you must congratulate him. There is no need to look for excuses, even though my personal opinion is different. For us, the most important are collective things. If they then give us [individual] prizes we appreciate it, but that is not our principal objective."
Alves nevertheless shared his own personal joy at having been again named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI.
“This is the fourth year I have been named to the team, my third consecutive year,” the Brazilian right-back said on the club’s official website. “This time is very special, because my father came -- he was very eager to come. Thank you to all who voted for me. This is very special.”
Neymar was also in Zurich, although he missed out on a second consecutive Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, with Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic strike against England winning out.
“Ibrahimovic’s goal was spectacular,” Neymar said. “It was a ‘golazo.’”
On Ronaldo’s success, he added: “I was here to support my teammate. My support was for Messi but Cristiano has my congratulations.”