Messi wins third straight Ballon d'Or, Sawa unseats Marta to win women's title

Messi wins third straight Ballon d'Or, Sawa unseats Marta to win women's title

European Soccer

Messi wins third straight Ballon d'Or, Sawa unseats Marta to win women's title


MessiBallonDor (Getty Images)

As if Lionel Messi needed any more evidence to prove that he is greatest player in the world.

Messi captured the Ballon d'Or for the third consecutive year, beating out Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi to add yet another item to his trophy case. The 24-year-old Barcelona maestro received 47.88 percent of the vote, while Ronaldo received 21.6 percent and Xavi earned 9.23 percent to rank as the three finalists from a shortlist of 23 players.

Messi joins Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten and Michel Platini as three-time winners of the award. Zinedine Zidane and Brazilian icon Ronaldo won the FIFA Player of the Year award three times as well, and the two awards merged beginning in 2010.

On the women's side, Japan's Homare Sawa ended Brazilian star Marta's five-year reign as Player of the Year, riding her tremendous performance in leading Japan to the championship at this past summer's Women's World Cup to capture the honors. U.S. women's national team forward Abby Wambach finished third in the voting.

As for the other awards handed out in Zurich:


There was an overwhelming presence of players from Barcelona and Real Madrid on FIFA's Team of the Year, as all but two of the 11 spots belonged to the Clasico rivalry.

Iker Casillas, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Nemanja Vidic, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Messi, Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney earned the nods.


There were a number of tremendous finishes around the world this season, but Neymar's goal against Flamengo took home the Puskas Award for best goal of the year. He beat out Rooney (bicycle kick against Manchester City) and Messi (goal against Arsenal) to win the award. Re-watch his strike here:


Men's Coach of the Year: Pep Guardiola, Barcelona (beat Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson)

Women's Coach of the Year: Norio Sasaki, Japan national team (beat U.S. women's national team coach Pia Sundhage and France coach Bruno Bini)

FIFA Fair Play Award: Japan Football Association

Presidential Award: Sir Alex Ferguson


What do you think of the award results? Think Messi is already the best of all time? Happy to see Sawa earn the recognition? Who makes your Team of the Year? Think Neymar's goal was the best of 2011?

Share your thoughts below.

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