Monday, January 11, 2016

Lionel Messi Beat Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar to Emerge Winner of 2015 Ballon d'Or

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi was awarded the 2015 Ballon d'Or at Monday's gala event in Zurich.

Messi, 28, had finished behind long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo in both 2013 and 2014, but was a clear winner of FIFA's top individual honour for a record fifth time in his career.

After a year in which Barca won five trophies, including the Champions League and La Liga title, the Blaugrana No. 10 had been an overwhelming favourite to take the prize.

"It is a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage, winning again another Ballon d'Or after being there in the audience watching Cristiano win," Messi said in accepting his award. "It's incredible this is my fifth. It's much more than anything I've dreamed of as a kid. I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I want to thank my teammates. "And lastly, I want to thank football in general for everything it has brought me. Both the bad and the good. Because it has made me learn and grow."

Voting for the Ballon d'Or award is by men's national team captains and head coaches, along with international media representatives selected by France Football magazine.

Messi received 41.33 percent of votes, while Ronaldo was easily second with 27.76 percent, and Neymar earned 7.86 percent.

Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar were all named to the FIFPro World XI, but Messi's hopes to win the Puskas Award for the first time were dashed whenBrazilian Wendell Lira was honoured for the year's best goal instead.

Barca coach Luis Enrique won the men's Coach of the Year award, ahead of Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola and Chile manager Jorge Sampaoli. Neither Luis Enrique nor Guardiola attended the event.

The FIFA Women's World Player of the Year went to Carli Lloyd of the United States over Japan midfielder Aya Miyama and recently retired Germany striker Celia Sasic, while the women's Coach of the Year award went to United States coach Jill Ellis.

The ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich was hosted by TV presenter Kate Abdo and Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt.


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