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Cruz at the Ballon D'or Gala POSTED BY Rolla Sarwary ON Jan 16, 2012

FIWC11 Champ Cruz at the Ballon D'or Gala

“Who would have thought that playing EA SPORTS™ FIFA would one day take me to the FIFA Ballon d’Or,“ said reigning FIFA Interactive World Cup champion Francisco Cruz, sitting in Zurich, Switzerland just hours after having experienced the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2011 Gala. 

Watch Cruz at the FIFA Ballon d'Or gala here
 
With his victory at the FIWC11 Grand Final in Los Angeles, Cruz earned $20,000 in prize money and a priceless invitation to the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2011 Gala. At the Gala, Francisco talked tactics with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, played EA SPORTS™ FIFA 12 against Wayne Rooney and Gerard Piqué on a nearby PlayStation®3 and shook hands with superstars such as Lionel Messi, Xavi, Neymar, Dani Alves, and the Brazilian legend Ronaldo. The morning following Francisco’s incredible night at the Gala, we sat down with the champion to discuss his VIP experience.
 
FIFA.com: This must have been an amazing experience for you. Does any specific moment stand out?
 
Francisco: I can’t really say what my favourite moment was. All of it was incredible. Beating Wayne Rooney at FIFA 12 and talking to Sir Alex Ferguson were certainly highlights. And of course meeting Lionel Messi, my favourite player. There have been so many highlights, I have to watch out that I don’t forget anything!
 
FIFA.com: What did you discuss with Sir Alex?
 
Francisco: For me he’s a true legend. He’s been with Manchester United for more than twenty years now so I was very happy that I had the opportunity to talk to him. We talked about the best ways to cope with mental pressure in tough games. This was really helpful for me and I’ll definitely try to apply his advice at this year’s Grand Final.
 
FIFA.com: You mentioned your EA SPORTS™ FIFA 12 match with Wayne Rooney. What was it like to play against one of your idols?
 
Francisco: It’s a dream playing against one of my favourite players. It’s a new experience and I would like to do it again next year, he is a good player. He kept possession of the ball well with England but he could not transfer that into goal scoring opportunities. He said he was the best FIFA 12 player at Manchester United and I believe him as he was very good. I had some good chances and I scored, but he could have scored one or two goals.
 
FIFA.com: You brought your cousin to the Gala. Why did you choose him to accompany you? 
 
Francisco: My family is very important to me. For the 2009 Grand Final in Barcelona, where I placed third, I invited my sister. Last year, my father came with me to Los Angeles, so now it was my cousin’s turn. He’s just as crazy about football as I am, plus he’s a really good friend of mine.
 
FIFA.com: Did you ever imagine that you would be part of such a special night when you first played the FIFA-series?
 
Francisco: No, not at all. It is still unbelievable. I mean who would have thought that playing EA SPORTS™ FIFA would one day take me to the FIFA Ballon d’Or! And now, here i am, among stars like Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney!
 
FIFA.com: Is this day at the FIFA Ballon d’Or a strong motivation for you to defend your title?
 
Francisco: I’m very competitive and I want to win every game. Of course, this day is very special for me and If I could be part of this once mor
 
Cruz clearly enjoyed his time at the Ballon D'or gala attending a historic evening among many of the world's greatest footballers. 
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