Liga - Messi wins Ballon d'Or for third year in row

Mon, 09 Jan 18:00:00 2012

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or for the third time running as football's leading lights gathered in Zurich.

FOOTBALL Lionel Messi (central) receives the Ballon d'Or award from Ronaldo (right), Michel Platini (background) and Sepp Blatter (left) on January 9 - 0

Argentina forward Messi, 24, made it three in a row after beating Barca team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo by a landslide to the prize.

Messi took almost 48 per cent of the vote, with Ronaldo second with less than 22 per cent; Xavi, whose orchestration of Barca and Spain's midfield is widely credited for their success, was a distant third with just over 9 per cent.

Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and England was fifth, behind Spain and Barcelona's Andres Iniesta.

"It's a huge honour," Messi said after accepting the trophy from retired Brazil legend Ronaldo.

"This one is very special because I want to share this with my friend and team-mate Xavi. He deserves it."

Messi headed up a FIFA XI that was dominated by players from Barca and Real, with the only exceptions United duo Rooney and Nemanja Vidic.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola, was named manager of the year after the Catalans' domestic and European double, but they failed to make it a clean sweep as Santos star Neymar pipped Messi and Rooney to the goal of the year.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was second, with Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho third.

Other highlights saw Ferguson receive a Presidential award for his services to the game, while Japan's women celebrated a trio of prizes after they won the player (Homare Sawa), manager (Norio Sasaki) and fair play trophies following their dream World Cup victory.

The Japanese award presentations were particularly emotional given the devastating tsunami, earthquake and nuclear meltdown that struck the Asian country before the Women's World Cup in Germany, for which they were outsiders.

The Ballon d'Or awards are voted for by FIFA members and France Football magazine, who until 2010 were the sole deciders of the winners with FIFA hosting a separate ceremony.

Eurogoals : Messi, FIFA Ba

Full voting breakdown:

FIFA Ballon d'Or:

1) Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona) 47.88%

2) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid) 21.60%

3) Xavi (Spain, Barcelona) 9.23%

4) Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona) 6.01%

5) Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United) 2.31%

6) Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Liverpool) 1.48%

7) Diego Forlan (Uruguay, Internazionale) 1.43%

8) Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, Anzhi) 1.34%

9) Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid) 1.29%

10) Neymar (Brazil, Santos) 1.12%

FIFA Men's Football Coach of the Year:

1) Pep Guardiola (Barcelona) 41.92%

2) Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) 15.61%

3) Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid) 12.43%

FIFA Women's World Player of the Year:

1) Homare Sawa (Japan) 28.51%

2) Marta (Brazil) 17.28%

3) Abby Wambach (USA) 13.26%

FIFA Women's Football Coach of the Year:

1) Norio Sasaki (Japan) 45.57%

2) Pia Sundhage (Sweden) 15.83%

3) Bruno Bini (France) 10.28%

FIFA Presidential Award: Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)

FIFA Fair Play Award: Japanese Football Association

FIFA Puskas Award (goal of the season): Neymar (Santos)

FIFA/FIFPro World XI:

Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid)

Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona)

Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona)

Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid)

Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United)

Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona)

Xabi Alonso (Spain, Real Madrid)

Xavi (Spain, Barcelona)

Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid)

Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United)

@Lee_Eurosport / @Reda_Maher / Eurosport

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