Lionel Messi has congratulated Cristiano Ronaldo on winning the 2013 Ballon d’Or, describing the Real Madrid forward as a ‘deserved winner.’
Messi had won the previous four awards but finished runner-up to the Portuguese in the latest balloting, with Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery in third.
Asked in the post-ceremony mixed zone about losing out to Ronaldo, Messi was magnanimous and said he understood why Ronaldo cried upon receiving the trophy.
“It is a normal emotion at a time of excitement,” Messi said.
“I want to congratulate Cristiano because he was the deserved winner.”
When asked why he felt he did not win this year, Messi was reluctant to pontificate.
“I have nothing to say about that. I think it was a good year for all three of us so I have nothing to complain about and no need to make excuses.
“I don’t know if it would have been different without the injuries.
“It’s true I didn’t get right until the semi-finals of the Champions League and this year I got injured at the beginning of the season.
“But that has nothing to do with this. Cristiano merits the win.”
Messi added that he hoped now to put a hard year behind him and concentrate on a better 12 months to come.
“It was a difficult year, not just for injuries but for things that were said about me and my family.
“Hopefully I can enjoy football in 2014.”