Messi wins Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi has claimed the title of the world's best player for a third time after winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or at an awards gala in Zurich.
Last Updated: 10/01/12 11:44am
Lionel Messi has claimed the title of the world's best player for a third straight year after winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or at an awards gala in Zurich.
Barcelona's 24-year-old Argentine striker beat team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to pick up the prestigious prize once again.
Messi, man of the match in the UEFA Champions League final in 2011, also won the Primera Division, Spanish Supercopa, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup last year.
Xavi paid tribute to the winner, tipping Messi to go from strength to strength and take his place at the head of football's pantheon of all-time legends.
"He's still young, only 24, and I think he's going to break all the records that exist in this sport," said the midfielder.
"He's going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport."
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic were both included in the world XI dominated by Spain-based players.
The FIFPro World XI was: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd).
Rooney said at the gala: "It was a great year and the highlight was winning the Premier League for the 19th time, which was a great moment for the club."
Barcelona's Pep Guardiola was named coach of the year; Japan's women's World Cup-winning captain Homare Sawa the women's player; Japan's (male) manager Norio Sasaki coach of the year for women's football; the Japanese FA were awarded the FIFA fair play award; Brazilian 19-year-old sensation Neymar won the FIFA Puskas award for the best goal of 2011.