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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Messi surprised at winning world award

Argentina forward Lionel Messi said he "wasn't expecting to triumph" after fending off FC Barcelona team-mates Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or in Zurich.

Argentina forward Lionel Messi beat off competition from FC Barcelona team-mates Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta to win the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or award at a gala ceremony held in Zurich.

The 23-year-old – winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or awards last year, which have now been merged – admitted he "wasn't expecting to triumph" this time around after he collected the trophy from his Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola.

"This is a very special day for me," Messi told the congregation at the Zurich Kongresshaus. "I would obviously like to share this with all of my team-mates because if it weren't for them, I wouldn't be up here accepting this award. There was so much talk beforehand of Andrés Iniesta or Xavi Hernández winning so I'm as surprised as anyone.

"It's fantastic to win another one of these trophies and I hope now that things continue going well at Barcelona and that I can achieve with Argentina. On a personal level, I'm conscious that Barcelona are doing really well and that we're picking up individual awards because of that. This time it's my turn to win one."

Argentina were knocked out in the quarter-finals of last summer's FIFA World Cup, but Messi excelled on the domestic front, finishing as the Spanish Liga's top scorer with 34 goals in 35 appearances to help Barça win their 20th league title. He was also top scorer in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League with his team eventually falling at the semi-final stage.

Current Real Madrid CF coach José Mourinho was also honoured at the ceremony, receiving the FIFA World Coach of the Year award for his achievements with FC Internazionale Milano last season. The Portuguese led Inter to a historic treble of UEFA Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia triumphs.

The FIFA Women's World Player of the Year was won by Brazil's Marta for the fifth time in successsion while the FIFA Puskás Award for 2010's best goal was taken by Turkey's Hamit Altıntop for his strike against Kazakhstan in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying victory in September.

Messi was one of six Barcelona players named in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI. The full lineup is:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF); Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Lucio (FC Internazionale Milano), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Maicon (FC Internazionale Milano); Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (FC Internazionale Milano), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF); Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), David Villa (FC Barcelona).

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