Messi wins third straight FIFA player of the year award. Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi has been awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or Award for 2011 on Monday, finishing ahead of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and club team-mate Xavi. Already considered one of soccer’s greats at age 24, Lionel Messi become the first person to win FIFA player of the year three times in a row.
Even at age 24 Lionel Messi is already considered one of soccer’s greatest players. The only other three-time winners are Ronaldo (1996-97, 2002) and Zinedine Zidane (1998, 2000, 2003). The FIFA award was renamed last year when it merged with France Football’s Golden Ball.
Messi scored 55 goals in 2011 for Barcelona, which won its third Champions League title in six seasons and five trophies overall last year. He also had four goals for Argentina’s national team.
Messi received 48 per cent of the points in votes cast by national team coaches and captains plus selected reporters. Cristiano Ronaldo finished second with 22 per cent and Xavi had 9 per cent to finish third for the third straight year.
“It’s a huge pleasure for me,” Messi said, after accepting the trophy from another three-time winner, retired Brazilian forward Ronaldo. “It’s the third time I get this award, and it’s a huge honor.”
Goal of the year
Lionel Messi missed a second trophy for the year’s most beautiful goal. Fans voted online from a list of 10 and chose the goal by Brazil forward Neymar in his club Santos’s 5-4 loss to Flamengo last July.
All three Ballon d’Or nominees were part of the 2011 all-star lineup chosen by the FIFPro group of players’ unions comprising 50,000 members worldwide. They selected a team entirely of Barcelona, Madrid and Manchester United players:
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas
Defence: Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Nemanja Vidic
Midfield: Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso
Forwards: Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney