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Lionel Messi wins record fourth Ballon d'Or

2013-01-07 20:42:16

Lionel Messi

Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been awarded the Ballon d'Or for the fourth season in a row.

Messi, 25, hit 91 goals during 2012 and beat club team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid's Ronaldo to the trophy.

Despite his goals, the Catalan giants failed to win either the Spanish league title or Champions League last year.

Abby Wambach won the women's award and Vicente del Bosque the coach accolade, while the team of the year was made up only of players from Spain's La Liga.

Messi was announced as the winner of the Ballon d'Or, the award given to the world's best player, during a ceremony held in Zurich on Monday.

He was part of a three-man shortlist for the prize, which is voted for by journalists, and national coaches and captains, alongside midfielder Iniesta and forward Ronaldo.

He becomes the first player to win four consecutive Ballons d'Or, breaking the record he jointly held with former France international, and current Uefa president, Michel Platini.

"To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable," said the Argentine. "The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words.

"I would like to recognise my other colleagues from Barcelona. Andres, it has been great to train and play alongside you.

"I would also like to recognise all of my friends in the Argentina national team, everyone that has worked with me, coaches and staff and my family and my friends. Also my wife and my son. Thank you."

Messi was favourite to win the gong after surpassing Bayern Munich and Germany striker Gerd Mueller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, set in 1972.

He netted 79 goals for Barcelona, plus another 12 for Argentina, in 69 games for club and country.

But Real Madrid clinched the Primera Division with a nine-point winning margin over their arch rivals, who were eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals by eventual winners Chelsea.

However, both Real boss Jose Mourinho and Messi's former boss Pep Guardiola, who left Barca in May to take a year's sabbatical from the game, failed to win the Fifa coach of the year award which was claimed by Spain coach Del Bosque for guiding his country to the Euro 2012 title.

At a news conference before the Ballon d'Or ceremony, Guardiola confirmed he plans to return to management next season

The Spaniard, 41, stepped down after winning 14 trophies, including two Champions League crowns and three La Liga titles, in his four years at the helm.

"I will return (next season) because I am young, but I have been living the kind of life that I wanted and one that my family also deserved," said Guardiola, who has relocated to New York with his wife and children.


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