Despite having a discrete World Cup in South Africa 2010, the Argentinean’s performance with Barcelona has been sufficient to withhold his crown.
The first edition of the FIFA Ballon d’Or was celebrated in Zurich on Monday, where the Argentinean striker Lionel Messi from Barcelona repeated the two awards that he had won last year -Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the year- in its new fusion version. The French magazine France Football and the ruler football entity in the world, FIFA, decided to merge their awards for the first time in history to create this individual recognition.
A group composed of 154 journalists along with the 208 coaches as well as their respective team captains that represent the countries members of the FIFA had the tough mission of choosing the number one player in the planet. World Cup champions Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta where the other two nominees and Spain’s hope of receiving the award over their club teammate Messi. Unfortunately for the Spaniards their World Cup title wasn’t going to have as much incidence as it did in previous editions.
Messi’s 47 goals in 53 games in all competition during the past 2009-10 season, added to the 28 goals in 26 games of this current one had more influence in the judges decisions, and 22,65 percent of the votes reflected it. Behind was left Iniesta with 17,36 percent and scorer of the goal that was worth Spain’s first World Cup title, and playmaker Xavi with 16,48.
The Argentinean has now tied his fellow countryman Alfredo Di Stefano (1957 and 1959) as the only players from this country that have won the award in two occasions. Behind has been left Omar Sivori with one in 1961, who completes the select group of three players from that nationality that have received it. If you happen to be wondering why such a legend as Diego Maradona is not part of that group is not because of a lack of recognition, but because before 1995 the award was only eligible for European players, and he didn’t have a double nationality like Di Stefano (Spanish) and Sivori (Italian) did.
With this recognition Messi also joins Johan Cruyff (1973 and 1974), Kevin Keegan (1978 and 1979), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (1980 and 1981) and Marco Van Basten (1988 and 1989) as the only players to have been crowned consecutively with this award.
In other awards Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho from Portugal won the election over the Spaniards coaches Vicente del Bosque from the Spanish national team and Joseph Guardiola from Barcelona with 35,92 percent of the votes.
As far as the dream team is concerned it had a strong presence from Barcelona players, just like in the podium of the Balon d’Or. Spaniards Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and David Villa joined teammates Xavi, Messi and Iniesta, as well as the also Spaniard but Real Madrid goal keeper Iker Casillas. The starting 11 is completed by Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid, Brazilians Maicon and Lucio from Inter, and Dutch Wesley Sneijder from Inter as well.
The best goal was for the Turkish Hamit Altintop, who scored against Kazajstan on September 3 the award winner goal during the 2012 Euro qualifiers. The fair play award went to the U17 Haiti national team whose country suffered a devastating earthquake on January of 2010.
And last but not least the ladies also got their recognitions: Marta from Brazil was voted over Germans Birgit Prinz and Fatmire Bajramaj as the best female player in the world. Their countrywoman and German national team head coach Silvia Neid did run with a better luck and clinch the best coach award over the also German Maren Meinert (U20 German national team coach), and Pia Sundhage (US national team head coach) from Sweeden.