By Staff Reporter
Fifth Ballon d'Or for Argentine soccer great
Soccer’s world governing body has once again named Lionel Messi as the best player in the world.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was presented the Fifa Ballon d’Or prize for an unprecedented fifth time at a ceremony in Zurich on 11 January, fending off Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to bag the award.
This is also the third year in a row that the Argentinean has been shortlisted alongside Real Madrid’s Ronaldo.
“Like I said on the stage, there are a lot of emotions going through my mind,” said Messi after the event. “Winning this award is always special. I’d gone two years without collecting it, looking on as it went to someone else, and now it’s my turn again. It’s not easy to win five. It’s always good to stay on top.”
The 28-year-old, who won the Ballon d’Or for the first time in 2009, said life has progressed since then, especially after it was rumoured that he was leaving Barcelona for England.
“That’s football for you. Things are always changing,” said the Rosario-born star. “In 12 months everything has changed. That’s why you just have to take things in your stride.
“What’s clear to me is that the best thing is to be the way we are right now: more relaxed, enthusiastic and anxious to go out and repeat all the good things we’ve done this year.”
Messi fans were unanimous in their praise for Fifa’s decision to award him the Ballon d’Or once more.
Commenting on Fifa.com, Indian resident Ajay_singh7 said: “He is the greatest player in the world … Messi deserves this all by his stats. Goals, assists, dribbles, skills, set pieces, everything. He just makes the field very smooth for everyone.”
In other awards on the night, the Women’s World Player of the Year prize went to US midfielder Carli Lloyd, a first-time winner.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique Martínez and US national team coach Jill Ellis were also recognised for the first time as World Coaches of the Year for men’s and women’s soccer respectively.
Messi also commended Brazilian striker Wendell Lira, who won the Fifa Puskás Award for the best goal of the year.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland oversaw the selection of winners chosen by the coaches and captains of the national teams, and international media representatives invited by Fifa and France Football.