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Ancelotti surprised by Ronaldo’s work ethic Portuguese tears of joy hailed

BARCELONA, Jan 14, (Agencies): Carlo Ancelotti never expected Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo to have the strong work ethic he possesses when he first became coach of Real Madrid, the Italian said on Tuesday. The Portugal winger ended Lionel Messi’s four-year reign as FIFA World Player of the Year on Monday night after a dazzling 2013 with club and country. “I knew the quality he had as I had seen him play and score goals but what has surprised me to an extent is his professionalism on and off the pitch,” Ancelotti told a news conference ahead of Real’s King’s Cup return tie at Osasuna on Wednesday. “He is also an example of fair play, he doesn’t protest. Football needs players like Messi, (Franck) Ribery, (Thiago) Silva and (Andrea) Pirlo as they help to improve its image.

“In football today you need talent and effort. Ability and having the genetics to be able to play is not enough as you have to combine it with hard work,” said Ancelotti. “Ronaldo is a great professional. There have been a lot of examples of players that have have had the talent but not succeeded because their effort was not always at the maximum.” Real go into the second leg of their last-16 King’s Cup clash with Osasuna holding a 2-0 lead. Ancelotti’s side have sometimes struggled in away games this season and could only draw 2-2 at El Sadar when the two teams met last month in the league. “We have problems away from home but we have problems at home as well, as do all teams as it isn’t easy to win matches,” said the Real coach. “We had a 1-0 victory over Espanyol (on Sunday) where we had a lot of chances to score more goals. “The team is concentrated and motivated for what will be a difficult game. We had problems there before and we are prepared for a tough match as Osasuna will try to win.”

Record signing Gareth Bale was taken off after a mediocre display against Espanyol, Ancelotti putting it down to the injuries the winger has had since arriving at the club in the previous transfer window. “He wasn’t very involved in the last match but he has integrated well. For a player like Bale it is important for him to be strong and the problem is physical,” explained Ancelotti. Meanwhile, the front pages of Spain’s newspapers were awash with images of a crying Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday after the Portuguese picked up his second Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday. Despite not winning a trophy on a collective level during 2013, Ronaldo was rewarded with football’s highest individual accolade for his incredible performances last year. The Real Madrid man averaged more than a goal a game and also guided his country to this year’s World Cup in Brazil. “Cristiano moves football with his emotional reaction to winning the Ballon d’Or,” said the front page of Madrid sports daily Marca. Fellow Madrid sports newspaper AS was more pointed as it led with “The best won.”

Inside AS the famously quirky Tomas Roncero described Ronaldo’s emotional reaction to winning the prize as “tears of gold” and went as far as to claim his victory was like winning the Champions League for some fans. In related story, Franck Ribery missed out on the 2013 Ballon d’Or accolade but said there was little more he could have done to win the award after helping Bayern Munich win five trophies in the year. Ribery finished third in the voting despite enjoying his best season with Bayern as they won the domestic league and cup double, the Champions League, the European Super Cup and Club World Cup. “What more could I have done after winning all those titles,” he told Bild newspaper on Tuesday.
“It does not matter if you are second or third. I am not selfish and this title is not my goal. “I prefer to win everything again with Bayern this season and also win the 2014 World Cup. That is what is important,” said Ribery. “Obviously I would have liked to have won but it’s alright.” Bayern sports director Matthias Sammer said Ribery was the number one for him. “It is a democratic vote and we have to recognise it but for us Franck is the best,” Sammer told reporters. “He won everything and did everything towards that end. But it was others who decided.”

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