Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: All-World XI, Andres Iniesta, Argentina, Carlos Puyol, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Villa, European Footballer of the Year, Fabio Cannavaro, FC Barcelona, FIFA awards gala, FIFA Ballon d'Or, FIFA Player of the Year, France Football magazine, Gerard Pique, Golden Ball, Iker Casillas, Inter Milan, Jose Mourinho, Lionel Messi, Lucio, Maicon, Marta, Portugal, Real Madrid, Rivaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Silvia Neid, South Africa '10, UEFA Champions League, Wesley Sneijder, Xavi Hernandez, Zinedine Zidane, Zurich
Lionel Messi won a second consecutive World Player of the Year trophy, topping the bill at the annual FIFA awards gala in Zurich.
The Argentine forward out-polled FC Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez in a vote of national team coaches and captains and selected journalists. Messi received 22.65 percent to Iniesta’s 17.36 and Xavi’s 16.48. In addition to winning the award last year, Messi finished second in 2008 and 2007; Xavi placed third in 2009. In the 20-year history of the award, eight winners have come from Barcelona, including Brazilians Romario, Rivaldo, and two-time winners Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.
The award marked the merger of the FIFA Player of the Year and the Golden Ball, first handed out by France Football Magazine in 1956 to honor the European Footballer of the Year. The new honor is the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Other winners that evening were Brazil’s Marta, named the best woman player for the fifth straight year; top men’s coach Jose Mourinho of Portugal, who guided Inter Milan to the UEFA Champions League crown; and Germany’s Silvia Neid, top women’s coach.
Named to the All-World XI were Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and three other Barcelona teammates, Spanish defenders Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique and forward David Villa; plus Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, both of Real Madrid; and Brazilian defenders Lucio and Maicon and Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder, all of Inter. [January 10]
Comment: The voters got it right.
It would be tempting in a World Cup year to hand the award to the leading player on the world championship team. Four years earlier, it was Real Madrid defender Fabio Cannavaro, who captained Italy to its fourth World Cup title. But was Cannavaro the world’s greatest player the moment he lifted the trophy? Subtract one ill-conceived head butt and the voters’ choice have been the voters’ second choice, three-time winner Zinedine Zidane, if not its third-place finisher, Ronaldinho.
Messi, from the recent past to the foreseeable future, is the world’s greatest player. Along with Spaniards Xavi and Iniesta, he led FC Barcelona to five titles in 2010, and though he failed to score at South Africa ’10 for Argentina (some will remember his near-misses and the goals he set up), this 23-year-old only grew in stature. From 25 yards out to the top of the goalie box, an unstoppable ball bearing on legs.
Ask any coach around whom he’d like to build a team and he’d reach past Xavi and Iniesta and grab Messi. The same couldn’t have been said for Cannavaro, then 33, four years ago.
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