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World best: Ronaldo it is!

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RONALDO-BALLONDORZURICH, January 13- Cristiano Ronaldo ended the four-year dominance of Lionel Messi when he was awarded the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday.

The tearful 28-year-old Real Madrid and Portugal star had been the overwhelming favourite to pip Barcelona and Argentina star Messi, winner the previous four years, and France’s Franck Ribery, who won the treble with Bayern Munich in 2013.

German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer claimed her first women’s prize while Jupp Heynckes, the former coach of Bayern Munich, and Germany’s women’s national team coach Silvia Neid took home the FIFA World Coach of the Year awards for men’s and women’s football respectively.

The award winners, who were voted for by national team coaches and captains as well as by the international media representatives selected by FIFA and French football magazine France Football, were announced at the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich.

The entire voting process was supervised and monitored by PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland (PwC).

TV star Fernanda Lima and former Netherlands international Ruud Gullit guided the 1,100 guests and TV spectators in more than 180 countries through the show, which featured, amongst others, icons of Brazil’s record five World Cup-winning teams, namely Pelé (1958, 1962 and 1970), Amarildo (1962), Carlos Alberto (1970), Bebeto (1994), Cafu (1994 and 2002) and Ronaldo (1994 and 2002) as well as current superstar Neymar, who in July will be hoping to help secure the Seleçao’s sixth but more importantly first FIFA World Cup title on home soil.

Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima and Swiss-Brazilian rhythm & soul singer Marc Sway provided an additional glimpse of what fans can expect in Brazil 150 days from now.

The evening paid tribute to the best football in 2013. FIFPro, the world players’ union, invited 52,000 professional players from all over the world to select their team of the year – the FIFA FIFPro World XI.

The honours went to the following all-star team: Manuel Neuer (Germany) in goal; Dani Alves (Brazil), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Sergio Ramos (Spain) and Thiago Silva (Brazil) in defence; Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Franck Ribéry (France) and Xavi (Spain) in midfield; and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden) and Lionel Messi (Argentina) up front.

The FIFA Puskás Award for the “most beautiful goal” of the year as voted for on FIFA.com, FIFA on YouTube and francefootball.fr by football fans from all over the world was also presented.

This prize, created in 2009 in honour and in memory of Ferenc Puskás, the captain and star of the Hungarian national team during the 1950s, went to Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović, who scored an audacious, acrobatic long-range bicycle kick for Sweden in a friendly match against England on 13 November 2012.

Ibrahimović received 48.7 %of the votes, ahead of Nemanja Matić (30.8 %) and Neymar (20.5%).

During the show, recognition was also given to those who have contributed to the game on or off the pitch. Former IOC President Jacques Rogge received the FIFA Presidential Award from President Joseph S. Blatter in recognition of his tireless work to defend the integrity of international sport.

Rogge excelled with his refreshing, intelligent and humble approach to leadership and he put the Olympic movement back on to a safe and steady path for the future. Furthermore, Brazil’s king of football, Pelé, was awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur for his lifetime achievements.

The FIFA Fair Play Award was given to the Afghanistan Football Federation for upholding the spirit of courage and solidarity against all odds through the after-effects of war, disorder and conflict.

Although the country has been ravaged by violence and war in recent times, the Afghanistan Football Federation has continued to build a footballing infrastructure, and has also developed grassroots football and opened up the game to a larger audience, including women and families.

The FIFA Ballon d’Or was awarded for the fourth time following the amalgamation of the FIFA World Player of the Year award with the Ballon d’Or France Football in 2010.

-AFP and Fifa.com

FACT FILE

Name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro

Age: 28

Date of birth: February 5, 1985

Place of birth: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Position: Forward

Clubs: Sporting Lisbon (2002-2003), Manchester United (ENG/2003-2009), Real Madrid (ESP/since 2009)

National team: Portugal

International appearances: 109

International goals: 47

International debut: August 20, 2003, Portugal 1 Kazakhstan 0

Last international appearance: November 18, 2013, Sweden 2 Portugal 3

Honours

Club

Champions League (1): 2007-08

Club World Cup (1): 2008

Portuguese Supercup (1): 2002

English Championships (3): 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009

English FA Cup (1): 2004

English League Cups (2): 2005-2006, 2008-2009

Community Shields (2): 2007, 2008

Spanish Championship (1): 2011-12

Spanish Cup (1): 2010-11

Spanish Supercup (1): 2012

International

World Cup: 4th (2006), second round (2010), 10 matches, 2 goals

European Championships: finalist (2004), semifinal (2012), quarter-finalist (2008), 14 matches, 6 goals

Individual Honours

Ballon d’Or (2008, 2013)

FIFA World Player of the Year (2008)

PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2006-07, 2007-08)

Football Writers’ Player of the Year (2006-07, 2007-08)

Top European Goal Scorer (2007-08, 2010-11)

Top scorer in the Spanish league with 40 goals (2010-11)

Top scorer in the English Premiership with 31 goals (2007-08)

Top scorer in the Champions League (2007-08 with eight goals, 2012-13 with 12 goals)

-More to follow

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