Messi wins Fifa award thrice
ZURICH - Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, still only 24, won the World Player of the Year award for the third time in a row yesterday.
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo was second in the vote for the 2011 Fifa Ballon D'Or and Messi's Barcelona team mate Xavi third.
Messi, who inspired his Spanish team to win the Champions League, La Liga and Club World Cup, was also first last year when the award was created by joining together the separate annual prizes handed out by Fifa and France Football magazine.
"To win it three times running is a very big honour," Messi, who also won both old awards in 2009, told the audience after being presented with the trophy by former Brazil striker Ronaldo a three-time World Player of the Year.
"I want to share it with the people who helped me, my teammates and coach. This is very special, I want to divide it with my teammate Xavi."
No player has previously won the Fifa award three times in a row, although Michel Platini claimed the France Football prize three years in succession in the 1980s.
Barcelona's Pep Guardiola won the coach's award ahead of Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid.
Ferguson took the Fifa presidential award for outstanding service to the sport.
Brazil and Santos forward Neymar won the award for the goal of the year, a stunning effort in a Brazilian championship match against Flamengo.
Messi swept home with 47,88% votes in the survey among national team coaches, captains and selected media.
Ronaldo took 21,6% and Xavi 9,23%.
"I would like to share this award with Mourinho and Ferguson and all the coaches around the world who love this game," Guardiola said. Blatter heaped praise on Ferguson before handing him his prize.