Lionel Messi said injuries had not helped his bid for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or award but felt Cristiano Ronaldo had been a deserving winner of the prize.
Messi had won every addition of the FIFA Ballon d’Or since its foundation in 2010 before Cristiano Ronaldo ended his run on Monday. The Argentine also claimed the original Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 before both awards were merged.
The Barcelona star told AS that he had no complaints over his rival winning the prestigious award and that he is proud of being nominated for the seventh consecutive year.
"I want to congratulate Cristiano because he was the winner and deserved it," Messi said.
Ronaldo was moved to tears on stage after receiving the award from Brazil football legend Pele and Messi said: "[His tears] were normal, it is a very emotional moment.
"I have nothing to say. I believe it was a good year for the three players, and that is why we were the three who were there.
“I have nothing to complain about, nor any excuses to make. It is a pleasure [just] to be here for a seventh consecutive year. It is very nice."
When asked if the result might have been different had he not been hampered by thigh muscle injuries for most of 2013, Messi said: "I do not know if it would have been different without the injuries.
"I was a long time out, that is true. I did not arrive in good condition for the semi-finals of the Champions League, and this season I was injured as soon as the season began, but that has nothing to do with it.
“Cristiano deserved to win.
"It was a difficult year. Not just for the injuries, but for the things said about me and my family. I hope I can enjoy my football in 2014."
Despite missing parts of the year 2013 due to injury, Messi still scored 42 goals and was within three percent of Ronaldo’s 27,99 percent of the votes. The Barcelona superstar received 24,72 percent and finished the 2013 FIFA Ballor d’Or in second place ahead of Franck Ribery, who had 23,36 percent.
Can Lionel Messi reclaim the title in 2014? Have your say in the comment section below.
By David Kappel