Over the last five years many of Cristiano Ronaldo’s fans must have wondered whether he would ever be recognised as the greatest player in the world again, but last night he was finally awarded the Ballon d’Or for the first time since 2008.
Ronaldo was one of the favourites in the betting odds and beat Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribéry to the coveted Fifa World Player of the Year award after his stunning efforts in 2013 were recognised by the world’s top international coaches, captains and journalists. Having come second behind Lionel Messi for the last two years, Ronaldo was clearly moved. “There are no words to describe this moment,” the 28 year old said. “People who know me know how many people helped me. If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologize because I am deeply moved.”
Ronaldo scored an astonishing 69 goals in 2013, including two hat-tricks for Portugal, one against Northern Ireland and one in a magical World Cup qualifying play-off win over Sweden. In 2013, Ronaldo also equalled Pauleta’s record of 47 goals for his country but, in his acceptance speech, he was quick to show his gratitude to another Portugese football legend Eusebio, as well as former South African President Nelson Mandela, who both passed away recently. “Thank you to everyone, my team mates, the national team and my family, to everyone here. Eusebio and Mandela were very important for me, I can’t speak,” the Portugal captain added.
Ronaldo’s victory in the Ballon d’Or is fully deserved and it is great to see his achievements properly recognised. Despite his individual honours, however, Ronaldo would surely prefer success on the international stage with Portugal. If he can keep up the unbelievable form that he showed in qualifying then he may just deliver that when he leads his country to the World Cup later this year. Portugal are 33/1 with Paddy Power to win the World Cup, but with this superstar in their ranks, anything is possible.