The date 13 January 2014 will live long in the memory of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese international attending the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich in the company of his family, his girlfriend and his son - fully convinced that it would be his night.
Despite this fervent belief, however, the Real Madrid attacker surprised the world by weeping uncontrollably and finding words hard to come by when taking to the stage to receive his award. That was, even for those who follow him on a daily basis, an unexpected initial reaction to being handed the FIFA Ballon d’Or for 2013.
The Madeira-born superstar thus edged out Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery to claim the award for a second time after his maiden triumph in 2008. Having had the opportunity to compose himself, he then shared his feelings with FIFA.com.
“Finding out I’d won made me extremely happy, I felt very proud,” said Los Blancos’ main man, on the first thoughts that went through his head after Pele had announced he was the latest winner of the coveted prize. “You need to work really hard to win a trophy of this magnitude,” he added, while highlighting the “huge dedication and hours of hard work” needed to reach the very top.
The prolific former Manchester United forward, still clearly bubbling over with joy at his success, admitted that “winning a second Ballon d’Or was what I yearned for most”. Nor did he forget to give thanks to “all my team-mates for Real Madrid and the national side, because you can’t win individual awards without working as a team. And the same goes to my coaches for club and country, for the trust they had in me,” added Ronaldo, in reference to Portugal boss Paulo Bento, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, with the latter duo at the Madrid helm for the first and second half of 2013 respectively.
After stating how “this is a moment of great joy for me” but before taking his leave, Ronaldo chose to highlight the fact he had been handed the award by Michel Platini and Pele, the Brazilian legend having himself been awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur just minutes earlier. “They were truly great players in the past, great legends: it’s a huge privilege to be handed this by them,” he said.
So ended the day for a player who recently scored the 400th goal of his career and who left Zurich’s Kongresshaus enveloped in the warmth and affection of his loved ones, colleagues and football fans in general.
Before departing, however, he made it very clear that he plans to be an equally spectacular force during 2014: “I’m going to try to give my best, like I always do, and I hope to be back next year to win the third Ballon d’Or of my career. That’s what I intend to do.” Any pretenders to the throne, you have been warned...