In the next few days FIFA.com will bring you a series of exclusive interviews with the figures who made the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich such a memorable occasion, among them Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery. To whet your appetite, here is a sneak preview of what they had to say.
“I can’t describe how I feel right now. I’d like to thank all my team-mates at Real Madrid and in the national team and my family. This is an honour. It is very difficult to win this award. I would like to mention Eusebio and my girlfriend and my son. This is a very exciting moment for me. I can’t speak any more.”
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo chokes back the tears after receiving the second FIFA Ballon d’Or of his career.
“I’ve known Jupp Heynckes for a long time. I hold him in very high regard and I am genuinely very happy that he achieved the results he did. On a personal level I obviously would have preferred it if he had retired with just the two titles, but he honestly deserves the success that has come his way.”
Borussia Dortmund Jurgen Klopp, one of the three contenders in the running for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football.
“Messi never stops surprising me, especially now that he’s a team-mate of mine. I just can’t believe how good he is. I mean he’s so good. We’ll have to wait and see if we face each other at the World Cup. For now I’ll be cheering him on like I’ve always done and like I did for him here.”
Brazil and Barcelona forward Neymar, a nominee for the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award.
“Every obstacle I’ve faced, starting with the accident I had when I was a boy, has helped me become the person and the player I am today. I never give in.”
2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or nominee Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich and France.
“I’m not used to not playing, so the injury has been really frustrating for me. Luckily I was able to spend a lot of time with my people in Rosario, enjoying myself and getting away from the dressing room for a bit, which helped me get the stress out of my system. Fortunately I’m feeling good now and I’m ready for what’s ahead.”
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, one of the three 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or finalists, on the recent injury that kept him out of action for two months.
“2013 had everything. We won the league and we qualified for the World Cup from a very tight group that included France. We even had to go to Paris and win a tough game there. Unfortunately though we didn’t go all the way in the Champions League. Getting married? Ah yes, there was that too. I thought we were just talking about the football. It was the happiest day of my life.”
Spain and Barcelona midfielder Xavi, who made the 2013 FIFA FIFPro World XI.
“It’s the kind of thing you decide to do on the spot, in reaction to what’s happening around you. I felt at that moment in time that I could take the kick. Maybe it was because he’d seen the one I scored against Portugal, but Julio Cesar waited until the very last second and I tried too hard to place it and ended up missing. I’ve tried to learn from the experience and if a similar situation comes up in the future, I’m sure I’d step up to the plate again.”
Spain’s Sergio Ramos, a member of the 2013 FIFA FIFPro World XI, recalls his penalty miss in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013.
“When you’re a young player the first thing you dream about is becoming a professional. Once you’ve done that you keep on going and then you suddenly find yourself in the national team. I can’t achieve many things much bigger than that! I am very honoured to form part of the World XI and to figure on a list of great goalkeepers.”
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who was named in the 2013 FIFA FIFPro World XI.
“Playing the World Cup in your own country can be a really good thing because the euphoria of the fans sweeps you along right through the tournament. We saw that for ourselves at Germany 2006, with all the supporters cheering us on in the streets. It gave us the boost we needed to improve and it pushed to get more out of ourselves.”
Former Germany national team captain Michael Ballack.
“It’s a great honour to receive such an award, though an orchestra is nothing without its musicians. The same is true in football. A team needs a good coach and a coach needs world-class players. That’s what I had at Bayern Munich last year. Everything came together perfectly and that’s why I’m accepting this award on behalf of all the team.”
Germany’s Jupp Heynckes, the 2013 FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football.
“When I was young I used to play handball with the other girls. And I was a goalkeeper too. That’s because I was used to playing football with the boys and I was the only one who wasn’t scared of the ball. I’d dive around without even thinking about it. I was a football goalkeeper playing handball. Things have changed a lot since then though. A lot of the girls who would have been playing handball before have taken up football instead. And they’re pretty good at it too.”
Brazil’s Marta, one of the three finalists for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award, on the progress women’s football is making in her native country.
“She is one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world and she’s had an incredible year. She had a great campaign in Sweden, where she didn’t let in a single goal and saved two penalties in the final. She won the European title on top of it all, and you couldn’t ask for any more from her.”
Former USA player Mia Hamm on Germany’s Nadine Angerer, the newly crowned FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.
“It has been a magical summer. I’d been dreaming about the prospect of doing something special with the team but what actually happened exceeded all expectations. Even though we didn’t win, the support we gained and the steps we took in developing the women’s game represented huge success in itself.”
Sweden coach Pia Sundhage, who was in the running for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football.