Former Ballon d’Or champion Lionel Messi says Cristiano Ronaldo deserved to win the 2013 prize in Zurich on Monday.
Messi had won FIFA’s player of the year award for the past four years but the 26-year-old Argentine forward conceded injuries meant he was not up to his usual standards in 2013.
The Barcelona striker missed a chunk of games towards the end of the 2012-13 La Liga season with a hamstring injury, with a similar problem leaving him on the sidelines through November and December.
“It (2013) was a not really good year for me,” Messi said.
“It was very complicated not just for the injuries but also for many other things surrounding my family and what people said about me.
“But, hopefully, 2014 could be a good year without any injuries and then we can forget about everything.”
Messi hailed Real Madrid’s Ronaldo after finishing second behind the Portuguese forward in the Ballon d’Or voting, while Bayern Munich’s French winger Franck Ribery claimed third.
“It (the Ballon d’Or) is a very important prize, and like I said in the press conference before I am very happy to be amongst the three best players and for me it is a prize,” Messi said.
“Like I said, Cristiano won it and he deserved to win.”
Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who won the Puskas Award for the goal of the year, declared his club Paris Saint-Germain can win the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League.
Ibrahimovic won the Puskas Award for his audacious 30-yard overhead kick, while playing for Sweden against England in November 2012.
The 32-year-old striker has scored 61 goals in 72 games since joining PSG in 2012 and reckons the Ligue 1 club can improve on their quarter-final exit in last season’s Champions League.
“I think in the Champions League everything can happen, we have the potential to win it, but who will win it, you never know,” Ibrahimovic said.