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updated: 1/13/2014 6:52 PM

Ronaldo named world's best soccer player

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  • Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal cries as he holds the trophy for world player of the year at the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013 Gala in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

      Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal cries as he holds the trophy for world player of the year at the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013 Gala in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.
    Associated Press

  • Soccer player Lionel Messi, right, of Argentina arrives with his wife Antonella, left, on the red carpet prior to the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013 gala held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

      Soccer player Lionel Messi, right, of Argentina arrives with his wife Antonella, left, on the red carpet prior to the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013 gala held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't hide how much it meant to him, finally being voted the world's best soccer player again.

Having spent four years in the shadow of his great rival Lionel Messi, Ronaldo broke down in tears after being elected the Ballon d'Or winner for 2013 on Monday -- a rare display of emotion that showed just how important it was for the Portugal winger to get his hands on the trophy again.

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Ronaldo first won soccer's biggest individual prize five years ago, but then watched as Messi found a way of upstaging him each year despite consistently scoring at an unprecedented rate for Real Madrid.

"There are no words to describe this moment," said Ronaldo, crying openly while his 3-year-old son, also named Cristiano, stood at his feet. The little boy had just been hoisted by Brazil great Pele to touch the golden trophy as dad gathered himself to speak.

"People who know me know how many people helped me," Ronaldo said in Portuguese. "If I have forgotten anyone, I do apologize because I am deeply moved."

Earlier Monday, Ronaldo was cautiously diplomatic at a news conference, facing reporters who mostly predicted his prolific 69-goal tally in 2013 would end Messi's four-year victory run.

Ronaldo's stunning hat trick against Sweden in a decisive World Cup playoff in November also appeared to stand out as the year's defining individual performance.

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