by his former team-mate.
The Manchester United defender, who confirmed he tried but failed to persuade the Real Madrid star to return to the club last summer, said Ronaldo was a rough diamond when he moved to Old Trafford as an 18-year-old but has reaped the rewards for his dedication.
Ferdinand said on Facebook: "Cristiano is living proof that no matter how much talent you have as a youngster, you have to work hard in order to be successful.
"When I first met Ronnie at Carrington, he came across as a really determined lad - a rough diamond who was prepared to work as hard as he could in order to fulfil his potential. Thousands of hours of graft both in the gym and on the training ground turned him into the perfect specimen.
"I'm still truly astonished by the drive and determination to stay at the top, by not only Ronaldo, but Messi too. It's been a joy to witness these two push each other week in, week out.
"The question I ask however is: would they be as relentless in scoring so many goals without each other, breaking every record along the way?
"We are blessed to be in an era where both Ronaldo and Messi have lit up the game in a way that has never been seen before."
In relation to persuading Portugal captain Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford, Ferdinand said he had "tried and failed to twist his ear".
Ferdinand added he had been mesmerised by the teenager Ronaldo when United played Sporting Lisbon in a friendly in 2003, and pestered Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him, which he did for a fee of £12.24million.
"After the game, the lads were raving about him, trying to convince Sir Alex and Carlos Queiroz to sign him up," said Ferdinand.
"Never had I seen a more mesmerising performance from a youngster than I did that day, he amazed us all. A few days later, he was a United player."
Meanwhile, the publication of the individual votes for the award have thrown up some interesting decisions and evidence of tactical voting - each national team manager and captain has a vote, with one journalist from each country also voting.
Neither Argentina skipper Messi nor Portugal captain Ronaldo voted for each other, or Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery who finished third.
Portugal's national team coach Paulo Bento nominated Ronaldo as his first choice, but ignored Messi and Ribery. Spain's head coach Vicente Del Bosque spurned both Ronaldo and Messi, voting for Xavi, Andres Iniesta and then Ribery.