Lionel Messi crowned world footballer of the year after winning Ballon d'Or award
Barcelona and Argentina striker claims the award for the third successive year
Messi won four titles with Barcelona in 2011 including the Champions League
Messi's club manager at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, is named coach of the year
Lionel Messi has been crowned world footballer of the year for a third successive time after claiming FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award at a ceremony in Zurich.
The Argentina forward beat Barcelona teammate Xavi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to the prestigious title.
Messi, 24, becomes only the fourth player in history to claim three awards, matching the feat of current UEFA president Michel Platini and Dutch duo Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten.
“It’s a great personal pleasure for me,” Messi said, after receiving his award.
“It’s the third time I’ve won it. It’s just an amazing honor. I want to thank everyone that’s been involved with me – my team-mates, trainers, physios, the coach (Pep Guardiola) and everyone at Barcelona.
“I’d also like to thank the Argentina national team as well.”
Messi enjoyed another glittering year with Barcelona, winning the Spanish league title, the European Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Xavi, who also missed out on the Ballon d’Or behind Messi last year, said his teammate could be one of the best footballers the game has ever seen.
He told the ceremony: “He’s still young, only 24, and I think he’s going to break all the records that exist in this sport. He’s going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport.”
Messi’s club manager Pep Guardiola was crowned manager of the year for masterminding victories in four separate competitions, including the FIFA Club World Club which confirmed Barcelona as the best team on the planet.
He said: “I want to dedicate this award to the thousands of people who, through more than a hundred years, have worked for FC Barcelona and helped develop one of the best clubs in the world.
“It’s a privilege and an honor for me to be a part of this excellent, amazing club.”
Brazilian striker Neymar, who plays in his home country for Santos, was named winner of the FIFA Puskas Award, named after legendary Hungary striker Ferenc Puskas, for the goal of the year.
Japan’s Homare Sawa was crowned FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year after she captained her country to the Women’s World Cup title in Germany, while her manager Norio Sasaki was named coach of the year for women’s football.
FIFA also selected their team of the year: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester Utd), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (Manchester Utd).