Messi: There's only one Diego
© Foto-net

2007 was the year Lionel Messi came of age. Adapting to his new-found status as a global star with ease, the diminutive Argentinian has made such an impact over the last twelve months that he has earned the recognition of the entire world, finishing behind Kaka and ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo as runner-up for the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Award.

Still downcast after his recent injury, Messi managed to summon up a smile for FIFA.com as he gave his impressions of the evening in a special video interview.

FIFA.com: How does it feel to be named a finalist for the FIFA World Player of the Year award?
Lionel Messi: It's lovely to be one of the three finalists and to be here at the Gala. I'm very happy about it.

What do you think about your rivals: Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo?
What else is there to say about them? They've shown all season long what great players they are. Cristiano Ronaldo's won the English championship and Kaka played a key part in AC Milan winning the Champions League. If they're here, it's for a very good reason.

It might not have been a vintage year for Barcelona, but on a personal level Lionel Messi has made the most of his considerable talent. What has been your high point of the year?
It's been a very fulfilling year for me personally. I've been able to carry on developing, which is what I'm always looking to do, as well as gaining experience and winning trophies, Let's hope some titles come our way next year.

Barcelona were looking good but missed out on all their objectives. What went wrong?
I don't know what happened to us, but it was a real shame to miss out on every trophy. You learn from your mistakes, though, and I hope it won't happen again.

What are your goals for 2008?
At a team level we want to win the lot. Barcelona always aim to win everything they can. We know it's difficult but not impossible and we've got a big enough squad to be able to do it. As for me personally, I just want to keep on improving.

How do you feel about the constant comparisons with Maradona?
Fine. I'm relaxed about it. As I've already said many times, it's an honour and a lovely thing to hear. There's only one Diego though.

You have made a wonderful start to the season, with people already saying you are the most talented member of Barcelona's so-called Fantastic Four. How does it feel to be in a dressing room with so much talent?
The fact is the atmosphere in the dressing room is great because everyone is very down to earth and we all get along really well.

Turning now to theAlbiceleste,you have already started on the road to South Africa 2010? How well equipped is the team for the challenge ahead?
I think it's very well equipped and it's going to get even stronger. We've got plenty of time to prepare and there will be a lot of matches for us to experiment in and improve our game. I've got no doubt that a lot more Argentinian players are going to emerge as well.

Germany 2006 proved to be something of a disappointment. What parts of that experience did you learn from?
Well, it was my first World Cup and I turned 19 there. On top of which I played and I scored a goal. It was all a great experience despite us not achieving what we wanted to.

Argentina have two FIFA World Cup titles but both were won before you were born. You'll be just the right age when South Africa 2010 comes around. Could you be the man to help put a third star on the Albiceleste shirt?
Of course one dreams of celebrating another World Cup win, as does the whole of Argentina. We always go so close but we've not been able to finish the job. Let's hope we can do it this time around.