Generally I’m not one to get swept up in these awards ceremonies, they’re usually nothing more than multi millionaires offering up false modesty and few genuine moments of clarity or honesty.
As I watched Cristiano Ronaldo accept the Ballon D’Or and subsequently display a moment of honest emotion, often times hardly able to speak, I felt overwhelmed myself.
He immediately lost the pretty boy patina, which countless people use to bring a case against him being a role model for the globe’s youth.
Like it or not Cristiano Ronaldo represents an outstanding example not just for young people, but for everyone.
As the camera panned around the room, occasionally showing Irina (his girlfriend) or his mother overcome with emotion for him, it was hard for me not to get swept up in the romance of the whole thing.
On stage was a boy from Madeira who came from very humble beginnings and had worked harder than anyone else to be on that podium, arguably it meant more to him than anyone else.
Even the most casual observer of the game can probably concede that Lionel Messi is probably the more naturally gifted player between the two, but Ronaldo has worked and worked in order to achieve the same level of superhuman brilliance which the little Argentine conjures up week in and week out.
The tears that flowed down Ronaldo’s face are ultimately relatable to every human being in the world who has ever wanted something more than life itself.
Whether it is love or a career, we have all had that feeling of just wanting something so bad it hurts you, only to be denied time and time again.
Many people will give up and say well maybe some things are not meant to be; maybe I’m just not good enough.
That feeling though of fighting against everything – and make no mistake about it, Cristiano has had to fight against a lot – is incomparable.
Whether it is an overly critical media or Blatter himself reinforcing negative stereotypes, Cristiano up until a few months ago was most certainly not the people’s champion.
Encapsulated in those tears were relief and joy and a sheer overwhelming feeling of achievement, an emotion that anyone can relate to.
Seeing those images makes me want to be better, makes me want to do better. Above all, that is what Cristiano personifies, no matter what you think about his fashion sense or his sometimes over the top attitude, he is an example of someone who is never comfortable, who always seeks to achieve more and is never fully satisfied until he has achieved his goals.
“There are no words to describe how I feel,” said Ronaldo.
“I’m delighted, I want to thank all my team-mates, all my family in the room.
“Those who know me know how many sacrifices I made to win this reward.
“I want to thank all those who had faith in me and I want to speak again about (recently deceased Portugal legend) Eusebio and (recently deceased former South Africa president) Madiba (Nelson Mandela) and to pay tribute to them one last time.”
“Without doubt I deserved this, Messi and Ribery would have also deserved it.
“Each time is different. But I would say that this second Ballon d’Or is more emotional, because my mother and my son (who joined him on stage) are here.” Ronaldo said in his acceptance speech
He was gracious and truly appreciative, it was a moment of sheer unadulterated joy and relief, in what is a generally sterile awards ceremony environment.
Cristiano is often crucified for being a little too self serving but if there is one thing we should all take from the man is his utter dedication to achieving perfection.
The ability to drown out the naysayers and just do everything you have to do to achieve what you want is something he should be acknowledged and remembered for.
I can honestly say that I am truly happy for Cristiano in this moment, seeing those very real tears did more for me than any of the astonishing displays he put on over the course of 2013.
Moments like this remind us why football is without a doubt the most beautiful sport in the world. Grande Cristiano, here’s to a prosperous 2014.
– By Mohammed Haniff, Inside the Spanish Game, all rights reserved