Zurich: Cristiano Ronaldo was overcome with emotion after being voted the world’s best player for 2013 on Monday, ending his great rival Lionel Messi’s dominance of the award.
Although he failed to win any major titles with Real Madrid last season, Ronaldo was rewarded for his immense goal-scoring prowess as he swept aside Messi, winner for the last four years, and Frenchman Franck Ribery.
“Thank you to everyone, my teammates, the national team and my family, to everyone here,” the Portugal and Real Madrid forward said, choking with emotion after accepting the trophy. “Those who know me know how many sacrifices I made to win this reward.
“I want to thank all those who had faith in me and I want to speak again about [recently deceased Portugal legend] Eusebio and [recently deceased former South Africa president] Madiba [Nelson Mandela] and to pay tribute to them one last time.”
Jupp Heynckes, now retired, was named coach of the year for the first time after leading Bayern Munich to an unprecedented Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League treble, a fitting end to a 48-year career as player and coach.
“Maybe 10 years ago I wouldn’t even have dreamt of this,” said Heynckes, who saw Munich drop only two points in the second half of the season and clinch the Bundesliga title in April. “I am humbled and happy to be standing here.”
The Afghanistan Football Federation and Sweden and Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic were among other award winners.
Afghanistan was given the Fair Play award after staging its first home game for 10 years, a friendly against Pakistan.
Ibrahimovic won the Ferenc Puskas award for the best goal of the year, although his stunning overhead kick from near the touchline in a friendly against England was scored in 2012 and missed the deadline for last year’s ceremony.
The volatile Swede, who in November said that he did not need the Ballon d’Or to know he was the best, was surprisingly mild in his acceptance speech, limiting himself to thanking the audience and wishing good luck to the contenders.
Voting was in the hands of the 209 national team coaches and captains, plus 173 selected journalists, and Fifa was at pains to point out that the process was transparent, especially after the original deadline was extended by two weeks due to a poor turnout.
Fifa spokesman Walter De Gregorio said the deadline extension, from November 15 to November 29, had not affected the outcome, which was independently audited by accounting firm Price WaterhouseCoopers (PWC).
“The ranking of the final three at the end of November is exactly the same as the ranking in mid-November,” De Gregorio said. “The only difference is that we had more votes.”
The poll for both player and coach of the year leaned heavily towards Europe. Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure was the only African player to make either of the original shortlists of 23 players and 10 coaches and there were no representatives from Asia or Concacaf.
Brazil’s Luiz Felipe Scolari was the only South American coach to be considered. Stephen Keshi, who won the African Nations Cup with Nigeria, and Safet Susic, who led Bosnia to their first World Cup, were among those to be overlooked.
Winners at 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or awards on Monday in Zurich:
Ballon D’Or: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Honorary Ballon D’Or: Pele (Brazil)
Women’s player of the year: Nadine Angerer (Germany)
Men’s team coach of the year: Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich/Germany)
Women’s team coach of the year: Silvia Neid (German national team)
Puskas prize for goal of the year: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) for his goal against England in a friendly
President’s prize: Jacques Rogge (Belgium/former International Olympic Committee president)
Fair Play: Afghan Football Federation
FIFPro World XI: Manuel Neuer; Daniel Alves, Sergio Ramos, Thiago Silva, Philip Lahm; Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Franck Ribery; Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi.