Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been honored as the best football player in the world for 2013 with the FIFA Ballon d'Or award. It's the second time he's won the award in the past five years.
FIFA passed along the voters' decision:
AS passed along reaction from Ronaldo after he won the award:
@Cristiano (wiping away tears) "I don't have words to describe this moment. I am very happy, I thank all my team mates at RM and Portugal"— AS English (@English_AS) January 13, 2014
While the individual achievement is wonderful news for Ronaldo, ESPN's Paul Carr shared this interesting detail:
Bad news for Cristiano Ronaldo & Portugal: no reigning Ballon d'Or winner has ever won the World Cup.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) January 13, 2014
Fifa.com transcribed an interview it had with Ronaldo, who spoke about winning the award:
I felt immensely proud and happy when I realised I’d won. Winning an award like that requires a lot of dedication and hard work, and is the accumulation of many hours’ toil. I really wanted to win the Ballon d’Or for a second time, so receiving it from two legends like Pele and Platini is a privilege. Now I hope I can do it all again next year and claim my third.
Ronaldo edged Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina), who had won all three Ballon d'Or Awards since its merger with the FIFA World Player of the Year, and Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich/France) to win the marquee individual honor.
Who deserved to win the award?
Although it seemed Ronaldo, Messi and Ribery were a step above the rest heading into the final months of the year, it was an extremely close race between the superstar trio. The turning point for the Portuguese sensation likely came in the UEFA World Cup qualifying playoffs.
That's when Ronaldo put together an impressive display across two matches against Sweden to ensure his country earned a trip to Brazil. He scored all four of the national team's goals, including a remarkable hat trick in the second leg, to secure the berth.
Carr provided a breakdown of Ronaldo's goals in 2013:
Cristiano Ronaldo's 2013 by the numbers, featuring goals galore: pic.twitter.com/020HiXsrSh— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) January 13, 2014
Before that outstanding display, Ribery was probably the leader thanks to his success at the club level with Bayern Munich. The German side won the treble last season with the veteran Frenchman leading the charge every step of the way.
Then there's Messi, who beat out second-place Ronaldo in each of the past two years and enjoyed another successful year for Barcelona and Argentina. Some injury woes likely held him back from winning the award once again, though.
Ultimately, the voters opted for Ronaldo, who won the award in its previous format back in 2008. He's been one of the most prolific goal scorers on the planet in recent years as he sought another Ballon d'Or, but he was missing that memorable moment necessary to push him past Messi.
Even though he certainly had another strong run of form for Real Madrid, it was the playoff moments for Portugal that probably put him over the top. Since he could have won the award in each of the past two years, he's definitely a worthy winner for 2013 and a strong contender to repeat in 2014.
All told, Ronaldo remains one of the best players in the world and shows no signs of slowing down as he approaches 30. Now he has the Ballon d'Or to once again prove that elite status.