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Lionel Messi wins record fifth Ballon d'Or

The Argentina international overcame strong competition from Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It's been a historic year for Lionel Messi and Barcelona.
It's been a historic year for Lionel Messi and Barcelona.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

LIONEL MESSI HAS won a record fifth Ballon d’Or following a stellar year with Barcelona.

Messi, invariably regarded as the world’s best footballer, helped Barcelona secure a famous treble, winning La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in 2015, while he also was part of the side’s Fifa Club World Cup win recently.

At international level, the 28-year-old attacker had an influential role in helping Argentina reach the final of the Copa America during the summer, winning his second runners-up medal in the competition in the process.

Messi scored 48 goals in 53 games in total in 2015, overcoming strong competition from Ronaldo, who was denied a third successive Ballon d’Or triumph, and Neymar, who was also part of the Barca team that made history.

“It’s a very special moment to come back, to get a Ballon d’Or again after the two years in which Cristiano Ronaldo won each time,” said Messi.

It is incredible that it’s my fifth. This Ballon d’Or means more than I could have ever dreamed of as a child.”

Messi, who voted for his Barca team-mate Luis Suarez, had 41 percent of the vote, Ronaldo getting 28 percent and Neymar 8.0 percent.

His victory continued the duopoly of the award he enjoys with Ronaldo that has lasted since Brazilian Kaka claimed top honours in 2007.

“We have always had a good relationship,” said Messi about his rivalry with Ronaldo.

We share a profession, we have our day-to-day battles because we are playing for different teams, but it is more in the press that they compare us for one reason or another.

“On our part, there has always been admiration and respect.”

Although he became the first ever player to win the award five times, Messi had said earlier that he would swap all those individual accolades for a World Cup success.

Team awards are more important than individual ones,” he said, before adding that the World Cup “is every player’s objective, it’s really the pinnacle”.

Messi and his Argentina teammates came close to winning the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 but were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the final.

His Barcelona boss Luis Enrique won the coach of the year award while Jill Ellis took the women’s trophy.

She had guided the US to women’s World Cup glory in Canada last summer, beating Japan 5-2 in the final.

Carli Lloyd scored a hat-trick in that match and that was enough to help her land the FIFA women’s player of the year gong.

She had also previously scored the winning goals for the US in the Olympic Games finals of 2008 and 2012.

Enrique edged out Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola and Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.

Brazilian Wendell Lira won the Puskas award for goal of the year for his spectacular overhead bicycle kick for Goianesia in a regional league match, edging out Messi’s own mazy dribble against Athletic Bilbao in last season’s Copa del Rey final.

Barca and Real dominated the team of the year as well with four players each, including Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo.

The only players from outside the two Spanish superpowers were Bayern Munich’s Germany international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, and Juventus’s France midfielder Paul Pogba.

Additional reporting by AFP

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Paul Fennessy

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