Ballon d’Or 2015: Lionel Messi beats Cristiano Ronaldo to win fifth award
Lionel Messi pips Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to win the 2015 Ballon d'Or and claim the award for the first time since 2012
Lionel Messi held off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to win his fifth Ballon d’Or and his first award since 2012.
Messi won with 41.33 per cent of the vote, ahead of Ronaldo (27.76) and Neymar (7.86).
It’s incredible that it’s my fifth, it’s more than I ever dreamed of as a kid
The 28-year-old Argentina international scored 48 goals in 56 games for club and country in 2015 as he inspired Barcelona to a La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble last season.
“It’s a very special moment for me to be back on this stage winning another Ballon d’Or after being there in the audience and watching Cristiano win [for the last two years],” said Messi after collecting his award on stage.
“It’s incredible that it’s my fifth, it’s more than I ever dreamed of as a kid. I want to thank all of my team-mates – without them none of this would have been possible.
“Finally, I would like to thank football in general for everything it has brought me, bad and good. It has made me grow and learn always.
Messi also played a key role in Argentina’s run to the final of the Copa America, serving up three assists in the competition last summer.
Ballon d’Or 2015: Awards in full
Ballon d’Or: Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina)
Men’s coach of the year: Luis Enrique (Barcelona)
Women’s player of the year: Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash and USA)
Women’s coach of the year: Jill Ellis (USA)
Puskas goal of the year award: Wendell Lira (Goianesia)
Fifa/FifPro World XI 2015: Manuel Neuer, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta, Luka Modric, Paul Pogba, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Speaking on stage before Messi collected the prize, Ronaldo said: “My goal is always to be in the top level, to try to do my best every time. I’m still young, I still want to play [for] more years and I want to make people happy.”
The award is voted for by national team managers and captains, and selected journalists named on a list compiled by France Football and Fifa.
After winning the award for successive years, Ronaldo endured a disappointing 2015 at club level as he failed to win a major trophy, despite scoring a remarkable 57 goals in all competitions.
Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Neymar netted 45 goals in 59 games for club and country last year and was shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or award for the first time.
Messi dominated world football’s most prestigious individual prize, winning the accolade from 2009 and 2012.
Earlier, Barcelona boss Luis Enrique was named the men’s coach of the year after guiding the Catalan club to three major trophies in the 2014-15 season.
Ballon d’Or: Previous winners
2014: Cristiano Ronaldo
2013: Cristiano Ronaldo
2012: Lionel Messi
2011: Lionel Messi
2010: Lionel Messi
2009: Lionel Messi
2008: Cristiano Ronaldo
2006: Fabio Cannavaro