• FIFA Ballon d'Or

Messi bags Ballon d'Or hat-trick

ESPN staff
January 9, 2012
Lionel Messi produced some stunning moments in 2011, to earn him the FIFA Ballon d'Or © Getty Images

Lionel Messi has been crowned the best player on the planet for the third year in a row after beating off competition from Xavi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or.

The Argentina superstar helped Barcelona to Liga, Champions League and Club World Cup glory - bagging 53 goals in the calendar year in the process.

He faced stiff competition from Real Madrid star Ronaldo and his Barcelona team-mate Xavi, but he came out on top at the gala ceremony in Zurich to claim the prize for the third year in the row.

In winning the coveted award for the third time, he becomes the first man since France great Michel Platini to take the title in three successive years.

"It is a great personal pleasure for me," Messi said. "It is an amazing honour. I want to thank everyone that has been involved with me, my team, team-mates, my trainer, the physios, my coach, everyone involved with me.

"It is a special trophy for me and I am going to share this success with Xavi. It is a pleasure to be here alongside him and to play with him."

Pep Guardiola scooped five trophies in 2011 with Barcelona, notably La Liga and the Champions League, and they earned him the Coach of the Year prize. Guardiola beat off competition from Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.

Manchester United manager Ferguson was recognised for his achievements at Old Trafford, with Scotland and Aberdeen by picking up the Presidential award for services to the game.

Neymar fended off competition from Messi and Wayne Rooney to land the FIFA Puskas award for the best goal of 2011. Rooney's stunning overhead kick against Manchester City earned him a place on the shortlist, but was beaten by Brazilian sensation Neymar.

Rooney secured a prestigious accolade, as he found his way on to the fifpro Team of the Year. He was joined in the team by his Manchester United colleague Nemanja Vidic, while nine of the side either play for or operate in Spain.

Iker Casillas,Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Nemanja Vidic, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney

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