The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 13, 2014

Ronaldo wins FIFA's Player of the Year Award

— ZURICH (AP) -- Cristiano Ronaldo has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for 2013, ending Lionel Messi's four-year run as the world's best player.

Ronaldo scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal last year, and his stunning hat trick against Sweden in a decisive World Cup playoff was perhaps the defining individual performance.

"There are no words to describe this moment," said Ronaldo, who was sobbing in tears after accepting the trophy with his young son, also named Cristiano, beside him on stage.

He beat out Barcelona's Messi and France winger Franck Ribery, who helped Champions League winner Bayern Munich to a sweep of major titles.

Germany dominated the other major awards, with goalkeeper Nadine Angerer named women's player of the year ahead of United States forward Abby Wambach, last year's winner, and Marta of Brazil.

Voting was done by national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists, in FIFA's 209 member countries who chose their top 3 preferences.

In a tight race, Ronaldo received 1,365 points, Messi had 1,205 and Ribery got 1,127.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann voted Ribery first, followed by Gareth Bale and Radamel Falcao, while American captain Clint Dempsey had Ronaldo first followed by Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Paul Kennedy of Soccer America voted Ronaldo first, followed by Messi and Ribery.

Pele, after a dramatic pause and smile, read out Ronaldo's name. The Madrid star rolled back his head and closed his eyes, grinning, then kissed his girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, before going up to the stage.

"People who know me know how many people helped me," the emotional winner said in Portuguese. "If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologize because I am deeply moved."

Pele greeted Ronaldo minutes after he also cried on stage when collecting an honorary Ballon d'Or for his own outstanding career.

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