Messi is Footballer of the Year

Messi is Footballer of the Year

Football: FIFA Awards: Marta bags womens crown for fourth time

Messi is Footballer of the Year

WORLD’S BEST: Brazil's Marta and Argentina's Lionel Messi pose with their FIFA World Player of the Year trophies in Zurich on Monday. AFP

Messi, who made history by becoming the first Argentine player to win the award, beat off the other finalists -- Kaka, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and last year’s winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The award, which was presented at a ceremony in Zurich on Monday evening, crowned an exceptional season for the 22-year-old, during which he won the Champions League, as well as the Spanish double and on the weekend he added the World Club Cup to his list of titles.

In front of the who’s who of international football, Messi thanked his team-mates when accepting the award. “What can I say? I would like to thank everybody. All of my colleagues, everybody who has been involved all over the last years.

“It is an award for us all to celebrate. For, without all those around me, it would simply not be possible to win this award.”

Messi picked up 1,073 points from managers and captains of the world’s national teams, comfortably edging out Ronaldo, who had 353 points and Xavi, who had 196 points.

Messi was the leading scorer in the 2008-09 Champions League, hitting nine goals including one in the 2-0 final win over Manchester United.

He also notched the extra-time winner in the 2-1 Club World Cup final victory over Estudiantes in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Messi's vote appeared to be entirely based on his club form as his performances for Argentina, under coach Diego Maradona, were largely disappointing.

Before the ceremony, Messi told reporters he could not explain why he failed to perform at the same level for his country.

"I don't know," he said. "I try to do the same as I do for Barcelona. But the World Cup qualifiers are complicated, sometimes it's difficult to play and it was a big effort for us to qualify.  "I believe the World Cup could be completely different for us ... it could be better for me and Argentina."

Brazilian Marta won the women’s award for a record-breaking fourth time in a row, beating team-mate Cristiane, England’s Kelly Smith as well as Germans Inka Grings and Birgit Prinz for the title.

“For me, the greatest pleasure is to play football and I would like to thank everybody who has been involved with me -- not forgetting my family. This award is as much for them as for me.” Ronaldo won the Puskas award for his goal for Manchester United in the Champions League against Porto.

The FIFA/FIPro World XI: Goalkeeper: Iker Cassilas. Defenders: John Terry, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Dani Alves. Midfielders: Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Steven Gerrard. Forwards: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres.

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