KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH —- No Leo Messi award was ever as emotional as this. Cristiano Ronaldo’s desire to be hailed as the World Player of the Year burst through into tears as the Real Madrid superstar finally landed the sovereign individual prize which had eluded him for the previous four years to his infamous annoyance.
Ronaldo took the top prize for 2013 ahead of Barcelona’s Messi as runner-up and Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery. His one previous triumph was in 2008 since when he has always had to play second or third fiddle (or, once, worse) to his nemesis from Barcelona and Argentina.
Critics may cavil that he benefited from a voting extension granted to the world’s national coaches and captains which, happily, encompassed his one-man destruction of Sweden in the World Cup qualifying play-offs.
But that would be hardly fair to a player who had maintained his inspirational, goal-scoring consistency over yet another magnificent personal year to such an extent that he is eclipsing even the records of Madrid legends such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Raul.
Earlier in the day Ronaldo said he had cleared the air with Blatter over jocular comments by the FIFA president at the Oxford Union last October over the Portuguese forward’s manner and hairstyle.
“The matter is in the past,” said Ronaldo. “We had a telephone conversation to clear up everything that had to be cleared up.”
Ronaldo polled 27.99pc of the vote followed by Messi on 24.72pc and Ribery on 23.36.
Ribery was a rare German also-ran at the annual FIFA Gala in the Zurich Kongresshalle in front of the great and the good of the world game plus Olympic president Thomas Bach.
The FIFA Women’s Player of the Year prize went to Wolfsburg’s Nadine Angerer with national boss Silvia Neid taking the Women’s Coach of the Year honours.
Jupp Heynckes, who retired last summer after guiding Bayern Munich to the treble of domestic league and cup plus Champions League, took the men’s Coach of the Year prize ahead of fellow pensioner Sir Alex Ferguson and Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic graciously accepted the Puskas Award for the finest goal of the year, his incredible, angled bicycle kick strike from 40m against England for Sweden.
FIFA also honoured Pele with a special Prix d’Honneur during an hour-long awards show which was broadcast live to 180 countries and, appropriately in World Cup year, was top-heavy with Brazilians.
World Player of the Year: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Portugal)
Women’s Player of the Year: Nadine Angerer (Wolfsburg, Germany)
Coach of the Year: Jupp Heynckes (ex-Bayern Munich).
Women’s Coach of the Year: Silvia Neid (Germany).
Puskas Goal of the Year: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden v England).
FIFA Prix’d’Honneur: Pele (Brazil).
Fair Play: Afghanistan Football Federation.
Presidential Award: Jacques Rogge (former president, International Olympic Committee).
FIFA/FIFPro Team of the Year: Manuel Neuer (Bayern, Ger), Philipp Lahm (Bayern, Ger), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Sp), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain, Brz), Dani Alves (Barcelona, Brz), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona, Sp) Xavi (Barcelona, Sp), Franck Ribery (Bayern, Ger), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Arg), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain, Swe), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrd, Por).