Argentina and Barcelona superstar striker Lionel Messi has won the FIFA world player of the year award for a record fifth time. Messi ended Portugal and Real Madrid’s star Cristiano Ronaldo’s two-year hold on the Ballon d’Or trophy to lift football’s top individual honor. The Barcelona forward regained the prize after his club won five major titles last year, leaving Ronaldo’s Real Madrid with nothing.
“It’s incredible that it’s my fifth. It’s much more than anything I dreamed of as a kid,” Messi, who won four straight FIFA awards from 2009-12, said in his acceptance speech. Messi got 41.33 per cent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot. Ronaldo received 27.76 per cent and third-place Neymar got 7.86 percent
Voting was by national team captains and coaches, plus invited journalists, from FIFA member countries. It was a stellar night for Barcelona and the World Cup-winning United States women’s team. Luis Enrique was named best coach after guiding Barcelona to win the Champions League, Spain’s La Liga and cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup. The women’s awards were won by US captain Carli Lloyd and English-born coach Jill Ellis.
Lloyd stood out by scoring six World Cup goals, including a stunning hat-trick in the opening 16 minutes of a 5-2 rout of Japan in the final.
Lloyd beat Aya Miyama of Japan and Celia Sasic of Germany. Sasic also scored six goals in Canada to win the tournament Golden Boot, then retired aged just 27. Ellis won the coaching award in women’s football ahead of two men: Japan coach Norio Sasaki and Mark Sampson, who led England to third place at the World Cup.
The American women’s team last won the 2012 awards after its Olympic title, when forward Abby Wambach and Swedish coach Pia Sundhage were rewarded.
Barcelona also swept the 2011 men’s awards when Messi and then-coach Pep Guardiola won following the club’s previous Champions League title. Guardiola was also on the shortlist against his former teammate Luis Enrique. Neither could attend due to team commitments. Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli was also shortlisted for guiding the host to a first Copa America title. The Puskas Award for most beautiful goal was won by Wendell Lira for Goianesia against Atletico-GO in a Brazilian league game. Lira’s bicycle kick topped an online poll that logged more than 1.6 million votes.