Lionel Messi becomes player of the year for the fourth time
By Mirwais Adeel - 08 Jan 2013, 3:52 pm
The 25-year-old took the honour ahead of Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo at an awards ceremony in Zurich.
Lionel Messi finished 2012 on 91 goals in 69 games. He began 2013 by winning the Fifa Ballon d’Or (with 41.6% of the votes), Cristiano Ronaldo (23.7%) came second and Andrés Iniesta (10.9%) third.
Messi and former French star, UEFA president Michel Platini, had been the only players to win three straight Ballon d’Or awards while Dutch greats Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten both won the accolade on three occasions.
Messi, wearing a polka-dotted dinner jacket and matching bow tie said, “To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable. 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”, he said.
“I would also like to recognise all of my friends in the Argentinian 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.”
Months of speculation slowly gave way to a growing realisation, especially as the European Championship was left behind and Messi accelerated towards the end of the year: it was going to be him again. He scored twice in each of eight successive games and they were almost all goals of barely plausible brilliance; when he scored only once in his final game of 2012, it was as if he had underachieved.
On Monday night, finally it was confirmed. “The good thing about the Ballon d’Or is that it’s being handed out tomorrow,” the Barcelona coach, Tito Vilanova, had said the night before. Everyone could get on with their lives, talk about something else for a change.
Messi’s success crowned another landmark year for the Argentine who is already the top scorer in La Liga for the ongoing season with 25 goals, having also broken Gerd Mueller’s 40-year record for the most goals in a calendar year.