Argentina coach Diego Maradona has named Barcelona striker Lionel Messi "the best (player) in the world," even through Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned the 2008 World Footballer.
"I voted for Cristiano Ronaldo, Adebayor and Ibrahimovic, because I could not vote for Messi," said Maradona. "Logically, the best in the world, for me, is Messi."
Maradona, a global football legend in his own right, told a news conference on Friday in the Buenos Aires suburb of Ezeiza that the 21-year-old Messi still has plenty of time to be picked the best player in the world.
"I got the Ballon d'Or at 26. Messi has a lot more time. Let him remain calm, because he is going to get lots of golden balls," he said.
For the second consecutive year, Lionel Messi was named the second-best player in the 2008 season. In 2007, he came second to Brazilian Kaka.
Maradona, just back from a European tour during which he met with Argentine players and their club coaches, confirmed that he reached an agreement with Barcelona in order to be able to field Messi in a Feb 11 friendly with France n Marseille.
He noted that "no one" in Barcelona asked him for anything in exchange for having Messi.