Cristiano Ronaldo: Hitting the heights with Real Madrid and Portugal

class=”styled__BannerImage-sc-1wadlxz-1 iLJqYu styles_articleMainImage__Lj_Qv”>Cristiano Ronaldo starred against old club Manchester United on his way to the 2013 Ballon d'Or

Cristiano Ronaldo starred against old club Manchester United on his way to the 2013 Ballon d'Or

Cristiano Ronaldo has joined LiveScore as Official Global Brand Ambassador. Over five days we’re charting the seasons in which he won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.

A first Ballon d’Or in Real Madrid colours and as many goals as games in a single season — 2013 was quite a year for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The iconic forward scored a remarkable 55 times in 55 matches in 2012-13, firing himself back to the top of football’s pecking order after four years.

With a sensational year under his belt for Los Blancos, here’s how Ronaldo rose to become the game’s top dog once again. 

Tussle at the top

The battle between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to become the best player of their generation truly began when the Portuguese superstar joined his Argentine counterpart in LaLiga in 2009. 

But Messi had beaten his rival to the Ballon d’Or for four consecutive years prior to 2013, despite Madrid’s No7 posting some remarkable numbers over that period. 

He could count himself unfortunate not to receive recognition for a 2011-12 season that saw him win the Spanish title and register a staggering 60 goals in all competitions. 

It’s testament to Ronaldo’s consistency that he continued to contribute eye-watering numbers and match-winning performances before finally lifting the award the following year.

An emotional victory

Cristiano Ronaldo wipes away the tears after Pele (right) presented him with the trophy
Cristiano Ronaldo wipes away the tears after Pele (right) presented him with the trophy

That long-awaited success elicited an emotional response from Ronaldo, who gave a tearful acceptance speech as he received the Ballon d’Or from all-time great Pele.

“First of all I have to say a great thanks to all of my teammates with the club and the national team,” Ronaldo said.

“Without all of their efforts this would not have been possible. I am very happy, it is very difficult to win this award.

“Everybody that has been involved with me on a personal level I have to thank. My wife, my friends, my son. It is a tremendously emotional moment. All I can say is thank you to everybody that has been involved.”

International impact

Ronaldo didn’t just put in devastating performances for Madrid in 2012-13 — his impact at international level was similarly seismic. 

He scored his first international hat-trick against Northern Ireland in September 2013 during the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, but Portugal were ultimately beaten to top spot in Group F by Russia. 

The Selecao needed Ronaldo’s magic once again in the play-offs against Sweden and he stepped up to the plate when it counted. 

He scored all four goals over two legs against Sweden to ensure passage to the finals, including another hat-trick in the second leg — equalling Pauleta’s record of 47 Portugal goals in the process.

Hitting new heights

Cristiano Ronaldo passed 300 club goals with a hat-trick against Getafe
Cristiano Ronaldo passed 300 club goals with a hat-trick against Getafe

Ronaldo was 28 by the time he received the 2013 Ballon d’Or and was well on the way to becoming the record-breaking forward that we know today. 

He passed the landmark of 300 club goals in January 2013, marking the moment in typically eye-catching fashion with a ‘perfect’ hat-trick (left foot, right foot, head) in a 4-0 victory over Getafe. 

And Real’s behemoth wasn’t done there either — he scored his 200th goal for Los Blancos in a 6-2 demolition of Malaga later in the campaign, taking just 197 games to reach his double-century.

A leader

Despite first captaining Portugal in 2007, Ronaldo had never been awarded the armband at the Bernabeu until 2013.

But he took on the captaincy after Real legend Iker Casillas was dropped from the side by manager Jose Mourinho and began establishing his reputation as a leader of men for both club and country. 

Ronaldo led by example in 2012-13 through the vast quantity of goals he scored, the calibre of his performances and his displays in the big matches — from sinking former club Manchester United with two Champions League last-16 goals to his national team heroics.

It had been a long wait for his second Ballon d’Or but the award was thoroughly deserved after another season which broke new ground. 

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Tags

Cristiano RonaldoReal MadridPortugal