Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't hide how much it meant to him, finally being voted the world's best player again. Having spent four years in the shadow of his great rival Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo broke down in tears after being elected the Ballon d'Or winner for 2013 on Monday - a rare display of emotion that showed just how important it was for the Portugal winger to lay his hands on the trophy again.
Cristiano Ronaldo first won football's biggest individual prize five years ago, but then watched as Lionel Messi found a way of upstaging him each year despite consistently scoring at an unprecedented rate for Real Madrid.
"There are no words to describe this moment,'' said Cristiano Ronaldo, crying openly while his 3-year-old son, also named Cristiano, stood at his feet. The little boy had just been hoisted by Brazil great Pele to touch the golden trophy as dad gathered himself to speak.
"People who know me know how many people helped me,'' Cristiano Ronaldo said in Portuguese. "If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologize because I am deeply moved.''
Earlier Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo was cautiously diplomatic at a news conference, facing media who mostly predicted his prolific 69-goal tally in 2013 would end Lionel Messi's four-year victory run.
Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning hat trick against Sweden in a decisive World Cup playoff in November also appeared to stand out as the year's defining individual performance.
"If I win, fine. If I don't, life goes on,'' he said, acknowledging that Lionel Messi's sustained excellence for Madrid nemesis Barcelona had pushed him to improve.
Cristiano Ronaldo also said he has made peace with FIFA President Sepp Blatter, whose ill-judged comments in October stating a preference for Lionel Messi seemed to confirm a long-held belief in Portugal and Madrid that their player was destined to lose.
"We talked over the telephone and everything was cleared,'' Cristiano Ronaldo said before the ceremony. "This is no longer an issue, neither for us nor for football.''
In a tight race, Cristiano Ronaldo received 1,365 points, Lionel Messi had 1,205 and Franck Ribery, the France and Bayern Munich winger, got 1,127. Voting was done by national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists in each FIFA member country.
On hearing his name called - finally delivered by Pele after a dramatic pause and smile - Cristiano Ronaldo closed his eyes, grinned and dipped his head, then