Messi wins third successive award

Lionel Messi was crowned the winner of FIFA Ballon d’Or for the third year running, having starred for Barcelona and Argentina in 2001. In a year that saw him lift the UEFA Champions League, La Liga, the Spanish Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, he fought off competition from team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

On being presented with the award at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2011 in Zurich at the Home of FIFA, the left-footed wizard said: “It is a big pleasure to win the third, a big honour. I want to thank the team-mates, players and coaches that voted me.

“I want to thank my Barcelona and Argentina team-mates, without them this would have been impossible. But most of all, I want to share it with Xavi: you deserve this as much as I do."

In receiving the award he became the second player ever to win the award three times in a row in the 55 year history of the Ballon d’Or and the 20 year history of the FIFA World Player of the Year award, after Michel Platini claimed France Football's title in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Messi won both titles in 2009, before winning the first combined award in 2010 before triumphing one again this year.

I want to share it with Xavi: you deserve this as much as I do.
Lionel Messi on receiving the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2011 award

This was his second FIFA trophy of the season, having scored the first goal in Barcelona’s 3-0 triumph over Santos in the Club World Cup in Tokyo, the second time he has won the title.

During his triumphs for Barcelona in the 2010/11 season the struck a phenomenal 53 goals in 55 games in all competitions, alongside 24 assists. He hasn’t stopped since, netting 31 times in 28 games in the current season ahead of tonight’s ceremony, laying on 14 for his team-mates.

He was also named in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI, alongside team-mates Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Daniel Alves and Gerard Pique, while coach Pep Guardiola was named FIFA Coach of the Year for Men's Football.