'I'd hoped to some second' - Neymar not happy Ronaldo beat him to Ballon d'Or runner-up spot
Published 12/01/2016 | 10:51
Barcelona striker Neymar was left disappointed after placing third at the Ballon d'Or ceremony in Zurich on Monday night and vowed to work harder to better himself.
The 23-year-old Brazilian, former World Soccer Young Player of the Year, was voted third best with 7.86 per cent of the vote behind Barca team-mate and now five-time winner Lionel Messi (41.33 per cent) and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (27.76 per cent).
Neymar and Messi helped Barca win the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in 2015, plus the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, and the former Santos player had hoped to finish in the top two alongside his club colleague.
He told marca.com: "In all honesty, yes, I'd hoped to come second.
"I'm delighted to be here alongside two footballing greats. I hope to come back and for my team to keep winning.
"I don't want to be better than anyone else; I just want to better myself. Now I have to work a little bit more to be amongst the three finalists again."
He praised his two main rivals for the award, saying: "I don't know if I'm at the same level as Messi or Cristiano. They are players who I really admire. I've watched them play since I was young and it's amazing for me to be here with them.
"I see Leo every day and I admire him as a player and an individual. He's really easy-going and a good friend. I follow Cristiano more on television. But they've both been coming here for eight or nine years and I want to be like them one day, trying to beat their own records."
Neymar, who became the first Brazilian to make the final three since Kaka won the accolade in 2007, was already focused on moving on and continuing doing his best for the Catalan giants.
He added: "It's a gift, but you also need to work hard to perfect the moves and what you do in games. I've always wanted to play football and it's wonderful. I work hard to improve every day.
"I'm over it now. It's another season and it's time to do things well all over again."
Neymar also made the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI alongside Messi, Ronaldo, and another Barca team-mate in Dani Alves, who believes his compatriot will go on to win the individual prize in future.
Alves told as.com: "Neymar has gone through an incredible evolution and he's a better player every day. Of course he'll keep competing for the award. He wants it and will work to win it.
"For as long as he wants, if he keeps going like he is now, he won't have any competition. The years pass and he just gets better. We're privileged to have him with us.
"When Leo stops winning it, it'll be Neymar."
Second-placed Ronaldo, who was named in the World XI with his Real team-mates Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric, hopes to continue to "make people happy" with his football.
He told realmadrid.com: "My work is to help my team win titles, score goals and form part of a team. I enjoy making people happy, my fans and everyone that follows me and likes my style of play.
"My aim is always to be among the best. Each season is a new challenge and I try to give my best. I want to make people happy."
United States midfielder Carli Lloyd was "honoured" after picking up the women's player of the year award ahead of second-placed Germany striker Celia Sasic and Aya Miyama of Japan.
The 33-year-old, who scored six goals to help the Americans win the World Cup last summer and was named player of the tournament, told as.com: "It truly is an honour.
"Our 13 years of hard work were rewarded in the final at the World Cup against Japan, when we won the tournament.
"This has been a dream of mine ever since I started my journey with the national team. I wouldn't be standing up here if it wasn't for my team-mates.
"Celia and Aya both are amazing footballers and are truly deserving of this award."