Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the second Fifa Ballon d’Or of his career on Monday, the highest personal accolade in the game, ahead of Lionel Messi and Franck Ribéry of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, respectively. Sometimes considered aloof and bent on personal glory, Ronaldo gave an emotional speech in which he thanked his teammates and family before hoisting the trophy he last won in 2008 when at Manchester United.
On stage with the Portugal captain was his young son, Cristiano Jr, with his mother and girlfriend among the audience. The trophy was delivered to the tearful recipient by three-time winner of the Ballon d’Or Michel Platini, and Pele, considered the greatest player of all time.
The Ballon d’Or is generally awarded to a player who has led a club or national side to notable success in the calendar year but in this instance recognized the phenomenal output of a player whose statistics speak volumes, despite Real drawing a blank in the silverware stakes in the 2012-13 season.
Ronaldo scored 66 goals in 56 games for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013, including five hat-tricks, the most recent of which was netted in Stockholm to turn the tide of a World Cup playoff against Sweden and ensured Portugal will be present in Brazil later this year. Despite a reputation for going solo whenever possible, Ronaldo also laid on 15 assists for teammates, the same number as Messi over the course of the year.
Messi has walked away with the award in each of the past four years, with Ronaldo the last player to beat the Argentina captain to the accolade. However, the Barcelona star was plagued by injuries throughout 2013, missing the final two months of the year with a hamstring problem. Although Barcelona claimed the La Liga title, it was thrashed mercilessly by Ribéry’s Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinal 7-0 on aggregate, a result that had many pundits questioning the club’s adherence to its mantra of possession and swift passing to subdue an opponent. Bayern, then coached by Jupp Heynckes, who won the award for coach of the year, swept the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles in a remarkable 2012-13 season.
Still, Messi managed to bag 42 goals in 45 games, from almost half the total number of shots on target Ronaldo required for his tally.
Ribéry, who assisted 18 goals and carved out a staggering 149 chances, was on the shortlist for the first time.
All three players unsuprisingly made the Fifa team of the year, in which Real’s Sergio Ramos and Barcelona’s Xavi, Andrés Iniesta and Dani Alves were also selected.