Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or beating off competition from Leo Messi and Franck Ribery.
The Real Madrid forward, who previously picked up the prize as a Manchester United player in 2008, secured the top individual award in the game at the FIFA ceremony in Zurich after an outstanding year in which he scored 69 goals for club and country.
Barcelona forward Messi had won the previous four editions, with Ronaldo finishing as runner up on three of those occasions. But the Argentina striker missed out this time having been sidelined with injury for the last two months of 2013. Franck Ribery was also in contention for the Ballon d’Or following an outstanding season with Bayern Munich in which the Bavarian club won a historic treble – the German league and cup, along with the Champions League at Wembley in May.
Ronaldo helped Madrid to the semi final of the Champions League in which he scored 14 goals in the competition – a new record. But his stand out moment will surely be the two-legged World Cup Play-Off between Portugual and Sweden. The 28-year-old scored a remarkable hat trick in Stockholm to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win and send his country to the finals in Brazil in the summer.
Ronaldo, who traveled to Switzerland with other representatives of Real Madrid, including Florentino Perez, Zinedine Zidane, Emilio Butragueno and Sergio Ramos, was emotional as he picked up the award.
Holding back tears, he 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.”