Why Cristiano Ronaldo deserved to win his third Ballon d'Or award
"Your love makes me strong. Your hate makes me unstoppable!"
This quote certainly ranks as one of the best quotes from Cristiano Ronaldo. It speaks volumes about his mental strength that has helped him reach where he is today. So it did not come as a surprise when Real Madrid's Portuguese superstar was bestowed with the honour of the World's Best Footballer, a.k.a. the Fifa Ballon d'Or 2014 for the second year running at a glittering ceremony in Zurich.
Tears flowed from his eyes, though not as profusely as last year, after he received the award from the recently retired French legend Thierry Henry. After wiping the tears, he then looked into the audience and said, "I can see my son."
It was a poignant moment indeed for the viewers all around the world. It was a truly well-deserved win for an extremely talented individual, who with his awe-inspiring performances and consistency over the past one year has made us wonder whether he is from another planet!
A look at the factors that contributed in Ronaldo winning the Ballon d'Or:
The threats: Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer
Coming to his competitors for the Ballon d'Or, Barcelona's Argentine superstar Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer stood as his major competitions.
Regarding Messi, it can be rightly said that the forward had a pretty mediocre year by his lofty standards with Barcelona finishing their season without silverware. And although Argentina made it to the final of the World Cup 2014, it was clearly visible that Messi was on his last legs during the final and could not take his team past the finish line.
To be frank, the Golden Ball award which Messi received during the 2014 FIFA World Cup was nothing but a consolation award. So there was little to suggest that Messi was going to win the Ballon d'Or this year.
Speaking of Manuel Neuer, there is no doubt that he has revolutionized goalkeeping and has taken it to a different level altogether. His heroics in the World Cup quarterfinal against Algeria, where he time and again came forward played as a sweeper keeper, helped Germany to stay in the tournament and eventually win the World Cup.
Neuer also played a pivotal role in Bayern Munich's double-winning campaign last season. However, as an individual, did he change the fortunes of his team on his own? It would have surely been an injustice to Iker Casillas if Neuer had won the award because Casillas deserved the award in 2010 just as much as Neuer deserved it in 2014. So in my opinion, all the hype around Neuer deserving the award more than Ronaldo was not particularly justified, and the outcome of the Ballon d'Or 2014 proved that.
A record-breaking season for Cristiano Ronaldo
Now, let's talk about the winner – Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet another season, yet another series of breathtaking displays. What more can be said of a man who over the past one year has scored 61 goals along with breaking many other illustrious records?
In an astonishing year in terms of footballing quality, Ronaldo broke former Real Madrid legend Raul's record of most Champions League goals while registering another record to his name for scoring the highest goals in a single Champions League campaign – 17. His 17 goals played an instrumental role in helping Madrid fulfill their long-standing dream of the La Decima.
In the domestic league, Ronaldo scored his 23rd hat-trick last season – the highest by any player in the long-running history of the league. His performances during the recently conducted FIFA Club World Cup also went a long way in ensuring that Real Madrid won the trophy comfortably, and convincingly.
However, towards the end of a grueling 2013-2014 season, he was affected with tendonitis in his knees. As a result of this injury, he was not fully fit for the World Cup which saw his side Portugal exit the World Cup prematurely. There were doubts as to whether Ronaldo would be able to match the same highs that he had achieved last season, but what a way Ronaldo has chosen to bounce back from these minor setbacks!
For the record, Ronaldo already has 33 goals from 28 appearances this season, and from the looks of it, it can be safely assumed that he will break a few more records in the upcoming season. After achieving so much, how could FIFA even think of any candidate for the Ballon d'Or other than Ronaldo?
His Real Madrid's Portuguese team-mate Pepe even went to the extent of saying that, "It would really be an embarrassment if Cristiano Ronaldo did not win the Ballon d'Or this year." Well, that truly sums up everything.
Cristiano Ronaldo has lit up the football field with his electrifying performances and has given us memories to cherish for a lifetime. His rivalry with Barcelona's Lionel Messi has only motivated him to step up his game. Even the arrival of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid has not slowed him down and despite the plethora of superstars at Real Madrid, he has still managed to hold his own.
It is true that Ronaldo won't be around forever, and the day he decides to hang up his boots there will be a void in the footballing world which will be very hard to fill. So let us all enjoy it till it lasts.
Here's congratulating Cristiano Ronaldo on his Ballon d'Or hat-trick and let us all hope that he keeps mesmerizing us with his breathtaking performances and wins more Ballon d'Or's in the future. Here's saluting the champion...respect!