Ronaldo wins Ballon d’Or, but vote reveals Messi rivalry
Neither player picked the other in their top three, as Portuguese pips Argentine to award
CRISTIANO RONALDO, as expected, was crowned the world's best footballer in Zurich last night as he won the coveted Ballon d'Or, dethroning his old rival Lionel Messi in the process.
The Real Madrid striker was moved to tears as he accepted the award from Pele, and dedicated his win to another former great, Eusebio.
The Ballon d'Or is an accolade that has "consumed" the player, says Rory Smith in The Times. "It may even be that it has been the sight of Messi standing proud, in one of the moderately bizarre tuxedos he favours, with that golden ball in his arms that has spurred the Portuguese on to ever greater feats of athleticism, of goalscoring, of sheer, raw brilliance."
Ronaldo's coronation was welcomed in most quarters. It is the second time he has won the award (the last was in 2008) and it provides "emphatic confirmation that he is one of football's all-time greats", says Rob Smyth in The Guardian.
But his career has been blighted by comparisons with his great adversary. "He has to endure constant discussion of Messi's apparent superiority, as a footballer and even as a human being," notes Smyth. "At times it seemed Ronaldo could not win. If he scored four, Messi would score five. If he cured the common cold, Messi would cure cancer. Ronaldo's most impressive feat is not to usurp Messi; it is to believe he could do so in the first place."
The pair's rivalry even spilled over into the voting process and created a whole new story.
"Perhaps more interesting than the actual Ballon d’Or award itself is the release of the full list of who voted for who," says The Independent. "Somewhat unsurprisingly, neither winner Cristiano Ronaldo nor his arch-rival Lionel Messi voted for each other, in an attempt to give themselves the best chance of winning the sought-after award."
What that means, the Daily Mail points out, is that "in the eyes of the other, Messi and Ronaldo were - at most - only the fourth best player in the world in 2013".
Messi, in his capacity as captain of Argentina, voted for his Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Neymar. Ronaldo, as Portugal's captain, plumped for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, offered an olive branch to team-mate and rival for the the world's most expensive player tag, Gareth Bale, and also picked former Real Madrid man Mesut Ozil.