Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or for the third time

Lionel Messi
© PA Photos
Barcelona playmaker Lionel Messi wins the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the third year in succession.

Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the third time in a row at a ceremony in Zurich this evening.

The Barcelona playmaker is now only the second player in history to win the award three years on the trot. The only other player to do so is current UEFA president Michel Platini.

Messi fought off competition from Barcelona teammate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to win the prize.

On receiving the award, the 24-year-old Argentinian international paid tribute to Xavi.

"This is a great pleasure for me," he said. "I want to share this with all the people who voted for me, my friends, my coach, my Barcelona and Argentina teammates.

"I want to share it especially with my friend Xavi. It is the fourth time being here together and you deserve this trophy."

Messi found the net on 55 occasions in 2011.

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