Lionel Messi win Ballon d'Or for third straight time | inside World Soccer

Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has extended his reign as the world's best player for a third year after winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or at an awards gala in Zurich.

Lionel Messi speaks after receiving for the third time the FIFA Ballon d'Or award
Lionel Messi speaks after receiving for the third time the FIFA Ballon d'Or award

Photo: Getty Images

The 24-year-old was chosen ahead of Barcelona team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi received 47.88 percent of the points in votes cast by national team coaches and captains plus invited journalists.

Ronaldo finished second with 21.6 percent and Xavi got 9.23 percent to finish third for the third straight year.

Messi's prolific scoring and unselfish creative play inspired Barcelona to win five trophies last year including the Champions League, La Liga and Club World Cup.

"It is a huge pleasure and honour to win my third award," Messi said.

"I want to share it with those who voted for me, my coach and my team-mates at Barça and in the Argentina national team.

"Moreover, I want to share this award especially with my friend Xavi. This is the fourth time that we are together at this ceremony and it is a pleasure for me to be with him on the pitch.

"I hope we can win more things together."

On a night of Barcelona dominance, Pep Guardiola was named coach of the year, beating Real Madrid's José Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United.

Meanwhile, Brazilian sensation Neymar won the FIFA Puskás award for a solo goal in his club Santos's 5-4 loss against Flamengo last July.

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