Lionel Messi Wins Third Straight Ballon d'Or Award
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has claimed his third straight FIFA Ballon d'Or Award for the world's best football player, according to ESPN UK. Messi beat out Real Madrid icon Cristiano Ronaldo and Blaugrana teammate Xavi to claim the trophy.
Messi scored 53 goals during the calender year and helped Barca win La Liga, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup to cap off yet another remarkable season for the dynamic offensive threat.
He is the first player since Michel Platini to win the award three consecutive times.
There isn't a more feared player on the planet than the Argentine dynamo. His incredible pace paired with lightning-quick cuts make him virtually unstoppable for opposing back lines and once he possess the ball inside the box he's rarely stopped.
When you consider how many players are playing at such a high level around the globe, it's amazing to consider the same player can earn enough voter respect to claim the award three straight times. But if anybody's deserving, it's Messi.
The 24-year-old striker is able to stand out from the crowd despite playing on a loaded Barcelona roster that features several of the world's best players. It takes a special, truly one-in-a-lifetime talent to play at such a high level on a yearly basis.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Messi's game is the lack of slumps he endures. He's improved his distribution game in a major way over the past couple of years which has allowed him to have a significant impact on the outcome of games even if he doesn't hit the net himself.
That constant desire to improve is why voters have no other option but to keep handing him the award. His game is never stagnant. He's always seeking out new ways to attack opposing defenses that are focused solely on stopping him and they just can't find a way to do it.
It's always difficult to assess the long-term ramifications of things that are happening in current day, but football fans around the world will probably look back on the last few years as the Age of Messi. And slowly, but surely, he's climbing his way up the all-time greats pecking order.
One thing's certain, nobody claims three successive player of the year honors because of luck. It comes down to hard work and wanting it more than the 11 players on the other side.
Messi has done that for the past three years and, don't look now, but he's already got two goals in as many games in 2012.
"It's a great personal pleasure for me," said Messi.
"It's the third time I've won it. It's just an amazing honour. I want to thank everyone that's been involved with me -- my team-mates, trainers, physios, the coach (Pep Guardiola) and everyone at Barcelona.
Sources: the australian sport and bleacher report
"I'd also like to thank the Argentina national team as well."
He also joins Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten as the only men to have won the prize on three occasions.
"I want to share this honour with my team-mate, Xavi," added Messi, who then addressed his club-mate in the audience at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala.
"He deserves it, too. I want to share it with you, because you deserve it as much as me. It's a pleasure to be here alongside him and to play with him."
The award was formed when the Ballon d'Or merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2010 and is voted for by national team coaches and captains, as well as a panel of football journalists selected by France Football magazine.