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Messi takes FIFA Ballon D'Or

Barcelona’s pint-sized striker emerged the big winner from an awkward ceremony that included cameos from James Blunt and Shakira.

Image: Michael Probst/AP/Press Association Images

LIONEL MESSI HAS won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the third season in succession.

The Argentine international fended off rival nominees Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi Hernández to take the prestigious award, which was presented by former Brazil international Ronaldo.

Yet to reach his 25th birthday, Messi has already staked a claim to being worthy of consideration as one of the game’s all-time greats. In 194 appearances for Barcelona, he has scored an incredibly 136 goals, including 55 in 2011.

The Puskás Award, granted to the player judged to have scored the year’s most impressive goal, was presented to Santos phenom Neymar for this strike against Flamengo in the Brazilian domestic league:

The top scorer from the Women’s World Cup, Japan’s Homare Sawa, was named Women’s World Player of the year ahead of another prodigious Brazilian talent, Marta.

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