Ballon d’Or 2011: Lionel Messi wins third straight crown

Lionel Messi seals third straight Ballon d'Or crown, while Manchester United boss scoops Fifa presidential award

lionel messi ballon d'or
Lionel Messi also won the Ballon d'Or in 2009 and 2010 Photo: The Sport Review

lionel messi ballon d'or

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or award for the third year running after beating off competition from Barcelona team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 24-year-old Argentine is only the fourth player to have won the accolade three times, with Michel Platini the last man to have scooped the price three times in a row. Messi received 47.88 per cent of the votes, ahead of Ronaldo (21.6 per cent) and Xavi (9.23 per cent).

“It’s a huge pleasure for me,” Messi said. “It’s the third time I get this award, and it’s a huge honour. This one is very special because I want to share this with my friend and team-mate Xavi.”

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson won the Fifa presidential award for services to football, and Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola was voted coach of the year for 2011.

On receiving his prize, Ferguson said: “I’ve been very lucky to have had so many good players. They’ve all shared my vision, my passion and that’s what makes Manchester United such a special club. You don’t always win in football, sometimes you lose, but we have tried to win – and that’s more important than anything.”

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said of Ferguson: “Elite football is about results and winning. There is no one better at it than him.”

Guardiola, who led his Barcelona side to La Liga and Champions League glory last season, said: “I would like to share this award with José Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and all the coaches around the world who love this game. I want also want to dedicate this award to the thousands of people who have worked for FC Barcelona and have who have helped to develop one of the best clubs in the world.”

Wayne Rooney, whose overhead kick against Manchester City at Old Trafford last season was beaten by Brazilian Neymar in the Fifa Puskas award for the best goal of 2011, said: “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 and for Manchester.”

The awards were voted for by the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams, as well as international media representatives selected by French football magazine France Football.

FIFPro World XI: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Man United), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (Man United).

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