• ‘Cristiano should also be a strong contender for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award’ – says Laureus Ambassador André Villas-Boas

  • Villas-Boas’ APPACDM project helps those with intellectual disabilities

PORTO, January 7, 2015 - Top coach André Villas-Boas believes that Cristiano Ronaldo should be given the Ballon d’Or World Player of the Year Award next week ahead of Lionel Messi.

Laureus Ambassador Villas-Boas, who has been manager of FC Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur and is now in charge of Zenit St Petersburg, told “In the past I have been in favour of Messi, but the drive, the ambition and the performances of Cristiano recently exceed limits.

“We are speaking about two of the greatest players in the history of the game. What I would say is that in this generation they are both incredible.  I think Cristiano this year 2014 and also going back to 2013 has been amazing.”

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is also on the shortlist of three players for the Award, with Ronaldo and Messi. The winner will be named on Monday.

Villas-Boas was speaking after becoming patron of the APPACDM project in his home city of Porto to help children and adults with intellectual disabilities. He said: "When I was working at FC Porto, I used to live near the APPACDM project. One day I went in to find out what was going on. I was overwhelmed with what I saw and the love and care which the staff gave to the people who needed it so much.

“Sometimes these are the people in society who are the ones we need to help most, but Government support is not always enough. I am determined to do what I can to help.”

André Villas-Boas, whose Zenit team is seven points clear at the top of the Russian League and currently in its winter break, believes that sometimes Real Madrid and Portugal star Ronaldo wrongly suffers from his reputation.

“I think sometimes drive and ambition of individuals should not be confused as arrogance, and sometimes Cristiano gets that tag on him. He is a bit ‘chased’ publicly in some way and I do not understand why, but I think this kind of phenomenon happens to him. 

“Cristiano does not get that margin of respect that sometimes Messi does, but you know hopefully this determination and passion has shown that for this time round he deserves to win it.

“I think also he should be a strong contender for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, although I know a team player has never won this individual honour before,” added Villas-Boas.

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Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, Laureus Sport for Good and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change. The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Cafu, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Rahul Dravid, Luis Figo, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick (Chairman), Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Tegla Loroupe, Dan Marino, Yao Ming, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Li Na, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Brian O’Driscoll, Alessandro Del Piero, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raúl, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Sachin Tendulkar, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt, Li Xiaopeng and Yang Yang. The Laureus Academy Members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for Laureus Sport for Good, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. Laureus Sport for Good addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €100 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. The mission of Laureus Sport for Good is to use sport as a means to combat some of the toughest social challenges facing young people today such as violence and crime, discrimination, unemployment, lack of education and health threats including HIV/AIDS and obesity. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – 60 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 160 countries and territories. The Awards continue to support Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does with athletes and partners to transform the lives of individuals and promoting to a global audience the power of sport as a development tool to combat challenging social issues. Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is the inventor of the automobile – and has been passionately shaping its future since 1886. As pioneers in automotive engineering, it is both our inspiration and responsibility to continue the tradition of the brand with trailblazing technologies and high-quality products. Like no other trademark in the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz appeals to both the hearts and minds of its customers. We give our very best for customers who expect the very best. Since the founding fathers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, our corporate history has been one of innovation and pioneering achievements. Many technical innovations that are nowadays standard in automobiles first entered the market in a Mercedes-Benz. This is the basis for our claim to leadership in automotive engineering. The brand stands for Modern Luxury, and enjoys an outstanding reputation for quality, safety, comfort, design and comprehensive, sustainable mobility. IWC SchaffhausenWith a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. As an ecologically and socially responsible company, IWC is committed to sustainable production, supports institutions around the globe in their work with children and young people and maintains partnerships with organisations dedicated to climate and environmental protection.