Zurich: In the final analysis, it seems as if the best man won. A relieved and emotional Cristiano Ronaldo took the stage to receive his prize thus denying rival Lionel Messi a record fifth straight Ballon d’Or.
But the Real Madrid attacker does not rate his Barcelona rival as among the three best players in the world, and it seems the feeling is mutual.
With Messi injured in 2013, Ronaldo racked up goals at a pace for Real and single-handedly helped Portugal into the World Cup finals with an remarkable performance in the play-off against Sweden. In 59 games for club and country in 2013, he scored 69 goals.
But the voting was close. Ronaldo took 27.99 per cent of the votes, against 24.72 per cent for Messi and 23.39 per cent for Bayern Munich striker Franck Ribery.
The voting system awarded five points to first choice, three to second and one to third. Unsurprisingly neither Messi nor Ronaldo voted for each other. Each captain and manager of a Fifa member nation is given one vote as is one media representative from each country.
Tactically-aware Ronaldo, who couldn’t vote for himself, selected Monaco’s Colombian striker Radamel Falcao as the No.1, (as did the skippers of Ecuador and Colombia) his teammate at Real Madrid Gareth Bale and Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil.
Messi, on the other hand, voted for three of his Barcelona teammates — Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Neymar.
In another piece of tactical voting, Portugal’s national team coach Paulo Bento plumped for his captain Ronaldo, Falcao and Arjen Robben, and left out Messi completely. His Spanish counterpart Vicente Del Bosque voted for Xavi, Iniesta and Ribery.
England manager Roy Hodgson chose Ronaldo, with his first pick with Zlatan Ibrahimovic — who won the Fifa prize for goal of the year against England with that bicycle kick — as runner-up and Robin van Persie third.
Interestingly, everyone Welsh voted for Gareth Bale, and Norway captain Brede Hangeland thought Bastian Schweinsteiger deserved to win the award.
Meanwhile, Ribery said there was little more he could have done to win the award after helping Bayern Munich win five trophies in the year. “What more could I have done after winning all those titles. It does not matter if you are second or third. I am not selfish and this title is not my goal. I prefer to win everything again with Bayern this season and also win the 2014 World Cup. That is what is important,” said Ribery.