Football meets glamour at the start of each year, with the global spotlight trained firmly on Zurich, where football's standout performers of the previous 12 months are honoured at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala.
On 12 January 2015 the biggest names in world football will once again converge on the Swiss metropolis to witness first-hand who will receive the awards won by Cristiano Ronaldo and Nadine Angerer at the previous Gala.
The event is always a special occasion for FIFA.com too. The official website of world football's governing body is packed with numerous exclusive interviews with the globe's most renowned players, coaches and personalities.
With the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2014 edging ever closer, we rounded up 14 of the most memorable quotes from our coverage of the last 14 years of the prestigious ceremony. The award and the year each quote comes from is in brackets after the speaker's name.
Relive last year's FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala with a look at our picture and video galleries in the menu on the right.
“In a way I think I've been lucky with these awards this year, because the best strikers haven't had their shooting boots on (laughs). In years gone by there have been defenders on the final shortlist but the forwards have been very strong and decisive, and have scored very important goals. It might be the case that this year the strikers haven't really caught the eye and that's why they've given the awards to me."
Six months after winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ with Italy, defender Fabio Cannavaro (FIFA World Player of the Year 2006) responds to a question asking if winning the award was a reward for his hard work.
"The kimono is part of Japanese culture. For us this dress signifies purity and also allows us to look graceful for special occasions like this one. It was a way of representing my country with pride, and it also forces me to walk nice and straight!"
Japan’s Homare Sawa (FIFA Ballon d’Or winner 2011) reveals why she chose to wear a traditional Japanese outfit at the Gala.
"No-one could have predicted that South Africans would feel so good about themselves. It was reminiscent of the time when Nelson Mandela was released from prison or when we won the Rugby World Cup. You can’t put a monetary value on it. So many South Africans of so many different races walked tall with their heads held high. We were showing off our flags, and we even gave the world the Vuvuzela! (laughs)."
Former Anglican archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu (FIFA Presidential award winner 2010) in reply to a question about the importance of staging the 2010 World Cup for the people of South Africa.
"Without the players we coaches are nothing. The perfect team isn’t the one where the coach merely transforms the players, but one in which the players make the coach a better person too."
Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho (FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football for 2010) explains why he was visibly moved when his Inter Milan players were honoured during the Gala.
"It's a source of great happiness and I can't wait for it to happen. I don't know if I'll be too old by then but it's something I'm aiming for. It's going to be extremely important for the development of Brazil, though, and a great event for the people. The country's already building up for it and it's going to be a great World Cup."
Six years ago Kaka (FIFA World Player of the Year 2007) was already looking forward to the 2014 World Cup, which will kick off in his homeland in a matter of months.
"It gives me the happiest feeling in the world. I just love scoring. It doesn't matter if it's a simple goal from close range, a long shot or a dribble around several players, I just love to score all goals."
Six months on from Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph, O Fenômeno Ronaldo (FIFA World Player of the Year 2002) was refreshingly open and honest in describing what he feels when he scores a goal.
"When you win a trophy like this one, one that is voted for by the fans, it's extra special, because they are the ones who live and breathe football. The fact that they chose my goal is incredible: it touches me deep down in my heart.“
Swedish top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (FIFA Puskás Award winner 2013) explains why this award is an extraordinary one for him.
"I can't sing you a song, or paint you a picture but I was always a pretty good athlete - it was the way I expressed myself! I've made incredible friends; I've seen amazing places. It was awesome."
USA women’s football legend Mia Hamm (FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2002) expresses what the sport means to her.
"I dreamed about playing in the first division, but I never imagined that all these things would happen to me."
Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi (FIFA Ballon d’Or winner 2011) admitted his career trajectory has surpassed his own expectations.
"I'm still ambitious. I want to carry on and get better and better, even though it's hard to achieve that. My ambition is huge."
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo (FIFA World Player of the Year 2008) on his footballing future.
"It means a lot, especially for us because it’s harder for women. The men earn a lot of money and they have a lot of clubs they can choose to play for. We work very hard but we’re always thinking about what might happen next year, if there’s going to be a team or a competition even. That’s what makes this an honour and a source of pride. This trophy isn’t just for me. It’s dedicated to women’s football as a whole."
Brazilian women’s football icon Marta (FIFA Ballon d’Or winner 2010) after winning the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award for a fifth consecutive time.
"This is a great source of joy, but you don’t become a player or a coach to win awards. You do so to enjoy the game, to put a certain philosophy into practice and work with the players."
The then FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola (FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football for 2011) responding to a question about whether he found it paradoxical to receive an individual award for a team whose strength is their togetherness.
"The older you get, the more you receive awards like this with a greater sense of responsibility."
Spain’s national team coach Vicente del Bosque's (FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football 2012) experience shines through after he received the award in Zurich.
"It is all about respect, discipline, fair play. After all, it is easy to celebrate victory, but much harder to accept defeat with dignity. This is exactly where many supposed stars differ from the true champions we are honouring here this evening."
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2012.