The race for the coveted FIFA Ballon d’Or award finally reached its culmination point in Zurich, Germany, with the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo winning his second Ballon d’Or award, his first since the merger of FIFA and France’s Ballon d’Or association. With heavy promises of being a night to remember- a history in the making, the Ballon d’Or award ceremony surely did not disappoint.
As Lionel Messi was plagued with a serious injury towards the end of the calendar year, and a case of Franck Ribery’s success being attributed much to his team’s overall performance, Ronaldo was the clear favourite to win the prestigious award this year round. With appreciable figures in the goal-scoring department, the Portuguese marksman managed to score 69 goals for club and country in only 59 matches. For Portugal, apart from almost single-handedly booking them a spot in this year’s World cup, Ronaldo’s goals saw him surpass Portuguese legend Eusebio and draw level with the nation’s all-time top goal scorer Pauleta, at 47 goals each.
In Club football, Ronaldo was arguably the most consistent player of the team in 2013, sometimes almost exclusively providing for the attacking threat for Real Madrid. Apart from scoring goals for fun, nowadays Ronaldo has added a new-found maturity to his style of play, indicated through improved link-up plays and a never-before exhibited range of passing, which he so effortlessly seems to execute. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that apart from his own managers and team mates, players such as Arjen Robben and Radamel Falcao, and footballing greats such as Gary Linekar and Diego Maradona had predicted Ronaldo to win the award for his consistently stellar performances in 2013.
History was also made as arguably football’s greatest icon; Pele was presented with the inaugural Ballon d’Or Prix d’honnneur award. Ineligible for the award during his playing years, Pele was honoured with the trophy as a tribute for his dedication and contributions to the game.
While the FIFA Ballon d’Or award was certainly the most awaited award of the night, the ceremony also saw a host of other awards being handed out for excellence in various fields and aspects of the game. The gala event saw Jupp Heynckes (now retired) win the renowned ‘Coach of the Year’ Award for the first time in his career after he helped guide an unstoppable Bayern Munich side win the Champion’s League, Bundesliga, as well as the German Cup treble in the football season of 2012-2013. The Ballon d’Or ceremony also recognised Nadine Angerer as the Women’s Player of the Year for her role in Germany’s 2013 European Championship triumph. Last but not least, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was presented with the FIFA Puskas Award (Goal of the Year) for his acrobatic ‘overhead-kick’ goal against England. A night that ended in delight for some, and dismay for the others, the Ballon d’Or award ceremony definitely lived up to its expectation and build-up.