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Messi is the best again

sports Updated: Jan 11, 2012 01:24 IST
Agencies
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Zurich

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Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, still only 24, won the World Player of the Year award for the third time in a row on Monday.

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo was second in the vote for the 2011 FIFA Ballon D'Or and Messi's Barcelona team mate Xavi third.

Messi, who inspired his Spanish team to win the Champions League, La Liga and Club World Cup, was also first last year when the award was created by joining together the separate annual prizes handed out by FIFA and France Football magazine.

"To win it three times running is a very big honour," Messi, who also won both old awards in 2009, told the audience after being presented with the trophy by former Brazil striker Ronaldo a three-time World Player of the Year.

"I want to share it with the people who helped me, my team mates and coach. This is very special, I want to divide it with me team mate Xavi."

Triple treat
No player has previously won the FIFA award three times in a row, although Michel Platini claimed the France Football prize three years in succession in the 1980s.

Barcelona's Pep Guardiola won the coach's award ahead of Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid. Ferguson took the FIFA presidential award for outstanding service to the sport.

The ceremony, co-presented by former Netherlands striker Ruud Gullit, also saw Japan's Homare Sawa voted women's player of the year, ending a run of five successive wins for Brazil's Martha.

Brazil and Santos forward Neymar won the award for the goal of the year, a stunning effort in a Brazilian championship match against Flamengo.

Messi swept home with 47.88 per cent of the votes in the survey among national team coaches, captains and selected media.

Ronaldo took 21.6 percent and Xavi 9.23%.

"I would like to share this award with Mourinho and Ferguson and all the coaches around the world who love this game," Guardiola said.

"I also thank the thousands of people through more than 100 years who have worked in football in Barcelona and have developed one of the best clubs in the world."

Blatter heaped praise on Ferguson. "In a world in which coaches are expected to produce instant results or be changed, his longevity is a shining example of what can be achieved through stability, continuity, investment in development and trust and confidence in the personality himself," said the Swiss, in his fourth mandate as FIFA president. "Twenty-five years managing the same club, can you imagine that today?"

'World cup needed'
Zurich: Lionel Messi still needs to produce his best at the World Cup to be remembered as one of the truly great players, former France captain Michel Platini said on Monday.

Messi won the World Player of the Year award for the third time in a row on Monday, based on his exploits last year with Barcelona, but Platini said the Argentine still needed to perform at the highest level for his country. "Look at Diego Maradona, everyone remembers what he did in 1986, nobody remembers so much what he did with Napoli, with Barcelona," said Platini.