Messi Grabs His Third Ballon d'Or, Beats Ronaldo, XaviSports | January 10, 2012, Tuesday // 09:25| views
"It's the third time I've won it. It's just an amazing honour. I want to thank everyone that's been involved with me - my team-mates, trainers, physios, the coach and everyone at Barcelona," Messi said at the ceremony. Photo by Getty Images
Lionel Messi has won for the third consecutive year FIFA Ballon d'Or prize for best player, a feat that only four players in history have achieved.
The Argentine forward, 24, beat Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Xavi to the prize.
Messi garnered 47.88% of votes in the survey among national team coaches, captains and selected media, while Ronaldo collected 21.6% and Xavi 9.23%.
"It's a great personal pleasure for me," said Messi.
"It's the third time I've won it. It's just an amazing honour. I want to thank everyone that's been involved with me - my team-mates, trainers, physios, the coach and everyone at Barcelona.
"I'd also like to thank the Argentina national team as well."
Messi's Barcelona team-mate Xavi paid tribute to the winner: "He's still young, only 24. He's going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport."
Dutchmen Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten, plus Frenchman Michael Platini, are the others to have won the trophy three times.
Messi, who previously won the prestigious accolade in 2009 and 2010, was man of the match in Barca's 2011 Champions League final victory over Manchester United and also won the Primera Division, Spanish Supercopa, Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup last year.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson won an award for services to football, while Messi's boss Pep Guardiola was voted coach of the year.
Brazilian 19-year-old Neymar beat Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Messi to win the Fifa Puskas award for the best goal of 2011.
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