FOOTBALL : Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has won the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has won the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
The talented Argentinian forward beat last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo into second place in the poll for Europe’s footballer of the year, organised by France Football magazine.
Messi, who becomes the sixth Barcelona player to take the award, told France Football: “For me it’s a big honour to win – but also to become the first Argentinian in history to receive the trophy.”
Messi polled 473 votes, more than double the number Real Madrid’s Ronaldo totalled (233) and 27 more than the impressive number the Portuguese international managed in winning last year’s award.
Ronaldo was the only non-Barcelona player in the top four, with Xavi (170) and Andres Iniesta (149) next in the list.
Former Barca striker Samuel Eto’o – now with Inter Milan, was fifth on 75, 17 votes clear of Real’s former AC Milan playmaker Kaka.
Barcelona’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who moved in the opposite direction to Eto’o, polled 50 – before a quintet of English-based players.
Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney and Chelsea forward Didier Drogba were eighth and ninth, with Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard completing the top 10.
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres was 11th, Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas 12th, with Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs – who netted his 100th Premier League goal at Portsmouth on Saturday, finishing 14th.
Barcelona’s Thierry Henry, heavily criticised for his handball in France’s World Cup play-off win over Republic, completed the top 15.