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Cristiano Ronaldo has won a Ballon d'Or. But it's a new year...
(Originally published on White Cover Magazine...)
To be the best, you've got to accept how short-lived being the best is, whether you're an athlete, a stock broker, an author or an English teacher. You've got to take it when you can, realize it's your year and make sure everyone else remembers it as your year from that point on. You're never going to be the best forever, because there will always be somebody better, somebody younger, or somebody (even) hungrier, depending on what your profession's metric of the best is.
But that's exactly what Cristiano Ronaldo did in 2013, and that's exactly why he was the (deserving) winner of the year's Ballon d'Or award, handed to FIFA's international player of the year.
"There are no words to describe this moment," a teary-eyed Ronaldo said on Monday (CBC). "People who know me know how many people helped me."
"If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologize because I am deeply moved."
For four years, there was nobody but Lionel Messi. To many, there still isn't. There's Messi, then maybe Ronaldo, then some whack-a-mole-like rotation between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Ribery, and then everyone else.
But in 2013, Messi sputtered with injuries. Ribery was excellent, but just not Ronaldo. And Ronaldo... well, he put away 69 goals and single-handedly carried Portugal to this year's World Cup, clinching the spot with a 4-2 aggregate win over Sweden. Oh, and Cristiano scored all four goals.
In naming Ronaldo the best right now, nobody is taking anything away from Lionel, and that's the beauty of it (even if I have to address it right here, right now because, let's face it, it's on your mind).
Honouring Ronaldo with his second Ballon d'Or is honouring a player who deserves the hardware, a player who has fought hard for the ware, even if his face can get pretty darn annoying almost all of the time.
From 2010 to 2012, the NHL handed the Hart Trophy to (in order) Vancouver's Henrik Sedin, Anaheim's Corey Perry, and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. Was the NHL saying the debate was over, that each of those guys was a greater talent or a Hall of Fame trumper to Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby, or even a few guys who have never won the Hart like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Lundqvist, or Shea Weber?
No way. But they owned the moment and they won the year.
Ronaldo did the same. And now that it's January, he'll have to do it all over again.